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It's here that the trilogy is both at its most playful and focused. Having escaped the palace of the king, Xerazade explores a seaside landscape where she encounters, among others, a "wind genie" and a daft suitor. In this chapter, it's as if the historical backdrop, the modern world and the disparate modes of storytelling collapse into one another. Movingly and unexpectedly, the last gesture of Arabian Nights is to scale back its scope and provide a disarmingly modest and poignant grace note on which one of contemporary cinema's new masterpieces can close.

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