26 August 2003 | Wetbones
The acclaimed Japanese painter Yoshitaka Amano has quite a long history of collaborating with animators. He started working as a character designer for Japanese anime when he was 15! Sadly, only very, very few of the final films show what a genius Amano really is. Mamoro Oshii's "Tenshi no Tamago" aka "Angel's Egg" succeeded in that respect, as did, albeit to a lesser extent, the two "Vampire Hunter D" films. The same can be said of the "Final Fantasy" series of games, for most of which Amano did design work. The reason that I have written the above is that "1001 Nights" is 100% pure Yoshitaka Amano! It captures the spirit, charme and magic of his drawings perfectly while simultanously expanding on them with the help of absolutely gorgeous, state-of-the-art 3-D animation.
It would be difficult to give you a summary of the story of this stunning 24 minute film. It is, as the title implies, inspired by the Tales of 1001 Nights. It features two characters, a prince and a princes who are both dreaming. We, the viewer, are treated to their dreamscapes. In them we find beauty and ugliness, joy and terror, love and loss.
There is no dialogue in the film, except for a short opening narration. The rest of the film is scored with beautiful orchestral music that was recorded specifically for the film and fits the events onscreen perfectly.
If this film can be compared to anything I have seen so far, it would have to be Disney's "Fantasia", but that comparison is not completely accurate. "1001 Nights" is, while perfectly suitable for children, much more adult. It effortlessly manages to transcend the medium of film to become genuine art.
Sadly this masterpiece is not easy to find because it hasn't been released on home video formats anywhere outside Japan. But if you ever get the chance do yourself a favour and seek this little gem out!