Director: Grigori Lomidze
Release Date: 1959
Rating: ★★★

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves © Soyuzmultfilm‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’ is a long puppet animation film from the Soviet Union.

It quite faithfully retells the famous story from One Thousand and One Nights. The film features the death of two characters, but the grim ending of the original story is lacking. Instead of being killed, the forty thieves are captured by the townspeople.

Interestingly, Ali Baba is not the real hero of the story, but rather his wife, a girl he bought on a slave market. She decoys and fools the thieves to their own destruction.

The film, which uses a narrator, is quite slow and the puppet animation isn’t as sophisticated as in contemporary films by Jiří Trnka. The puppets have no facial expression whatsoever and only occasionally their emotions become apparent. The best example of this may be the terror of Ali Baba’s neighbor when he realizes he’s trapped inside the thieve’s cave.

About the film’s director, Grigori Lomidze, little is known. He also directed the propaganda film ‘To You , Moscow‘ (1947), which combines live action and cel animation. Nothing points to a long experience in stop motion, and unfortunately, it shows. ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’ may be a charming film, a classic it is not.

Watch ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’ yourself and tell me what you think: