Black SplatThe Thief of Bagdad (1940)

"Mortals are weak and frail."

The Thief of Bagdad - The Genie Speaks with Abu the thief

Description: Rex Ingram as a Persian Djinn (genie) speaks to Abu the Thief (Sabu) in the motion picture The Thief of Bagdad (1940).

Abu is a thief who survives by stealing goods and supplies from the local marketplaces in ancient Bagdad. As Abu says, "I am Abu the thief. Son of Abu the thief. Grandson of Abu the thief."

Abu is later shipwrecked after Jaffar (Conrad Veidt), an evil Grand Vizier summons a great wind to kill Abu and Prince Ahmad (John Justin).

As Abu wanders alone on a beach, he finds a bottle. When he opens it, a giant genie appears. But instead of being thankful for his release, the angry genie threatens death to the little thief. "How can you be so ungrateful?" asks Abu. The Djinn replies, "Grateful? Slaves are not grateful. Not for their freedom!"

Thinking quickly, Abu argues that he did not believe that such a giant genie could have come from such a tiny bottle. To prove Abu wrong, the genie reenters the bottle, just in time for Abu to secure the lid and recapture the giant man. Abu then negotiates his safety and three wishes that allow Abu to find a way to help Prince Ahmad reclaim his kingdom.

While speaking to Abu, the genie imparts this bit of wisdom to the little thief:

“You’re a clever little man, little master of the universe, but mortals are weak and frail. If their stomach speaks, they forget their brain. If their brain speaks, they forget their hearts. And if their hearts speak [laughing boldly]—if their hearts speak, they forget everything!”

Earlier in the film, before Jaffar deposes King Ahmad and throws him in the palace prison, the evil Vizier offers this advice on power and control.

“You will learn one day, Great King, that there are but three things that men respect: the lash that descends; the yoke that breaks; and the sword that slays. By the power and terror of these, you may conquer the earth.”

Luckily, with the help of Abu, King Ahmad escapes the palace prison and travels to Basra where they live as beggars. But when Ahmad gazes upon the princess of that principality (June Duprez), he falls in love and enters her private garden to meet her. Looking in to Ahmad's eyes, the Princess says, "Now that you've found me, how long will you stay?" Ahmad replies, "To the end of time."

The Thief of Bagdad - Ahmed and the Princess

Ironically, Ahmad's evil Vizier, Jaffar also has eyes on the Princess and travels to Basra to bring her Sultan father (Miles Malleson) enchanted gifts (among them, a flying mechanical horse) hoping they will impress the Sultan into giving his daughter to him in marriage. But when Jaffar discovers Ahmad is alive and a rival for the lovely Princess, he goes out of his way to keep Ahmad from the woman he wants, including turning Abu into a dog ("Strange how an unpleasant child can make a decent dog!") and taking away Ahmad's ability to see his precious princess.

But, in the end, Jaffar is deposed and Abu, Ahmad and the Princess live happily ever after. As for Jaffar, he dies when an arrow pierces his heart.

The Thief of Bagdad - Movie Poster

The Thief of Bagdad - Movie Poster

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