I’m going to review a movie you have probably never heard of: The Prince’s Quest.
This movie is, as it tells you, about two boys. One is named Azur, the other Asmar. Azur is the son of a nobleman, who had blue eyes. Asmar is the son of a nurse, with brown eyes. Asmar and his mother appear to be of Middle Eastern descent, I am not sure it is ever clarified what, but my guess is Arabic, because the Nurse tells both the boys a story about a Djinn Fairy. Or Djinn Princess, she’s referred to as both.
The story goes like this:
A small boy
Becomes a big boy
Crosses rivers and valleys, puts out fires
And he saves the Djinn Princess
Together they live in happiness
It sounds better in the native language she uses, but I can’t write that for you.
This song is a sort of prophecy, and both boys want to be the one to save the Djinn Princess.
But meanwhile, Azur is being trained in the arts of nobility, dancing, riding, and what not. Asmar is watching and trying to learn by imitation. But they have their share of tiffs. The worst being over only having one parent, (though Azur says Janine is his mom also,) an dover who will save the Djinn fairy.
Azur’s father gets tired of him fighting and associating with these lower class citizens so he sends him off to boarding school and drives Nurse Janine and Asmar out. With no money and without even letting them pack their belongings.
Azur grows up and declares to his father that he intends to sail across the sea and search for the Djinn Fairy. His father thinks this is nonsense and doesn’t seem to consent, but Azur sets sail anyway, till a wave comes up and sweeps him overboard. He washes up on the shore of a strange, and he thinks ugly, land. And realizes he’s lost everything. No one could find him here.
Azur goes looking for people and finds some, who speak the language of his Nurse, though he remembers only a little. But he doesn’t get much of a chance to try for everyone runs from him and one man spits at him, telling him that his blue eyes bring bad luck.
As stupid as this seems, Azur believes that he has no choice but to pretend to be blind for the rest of his life.
He gets directions to a city from a different group of folks who think he is only a blind beggar, and on the way he meets a guy whose name I forget, but he offers to be his guide if he’ll carry him on his back. Claiming to have a problem with his own legs. They proceed to the city, where his “guide” proceeds to criticize everything, but the people do give him alms. And some food too.
I forog to explain earlier, but the prophecy of the Djinn fairy also involves three keys. One of fire, one of spices, and one of steel.
While Azur is walking around, his guide mentions that the keys are reputably hidden in the temples of each thing. At least we see two temples, one of heat, one of spice. The Temple of heat has been all dug up in the search for the key, but Azur, never opening his eyes, feels along the outer wall and finds the key hidden behind one of the stones, which was hot.
Later he finds the spiced key on the peak of the Temple of Spices.
After this Azur is told where the house of Janine is, whom he recognizes as his old nurse. She is now wealthy and owns a huge property and a lot of servants. With the help of his guide he finds her door and knocks. They don’t let him in, but he begins yelling for “Nanny” and Janine opens the door. She doesn’t believe it’s him, she says she left Azur across the sea. She says Azure did not have his voice. And Azur was not blind. Azur answer all these in turn, and answers the last by opening his eyes. Janine gasps and embraces him.
After that it all happens pretty quickly. Azur is brought in, and fed, and told about what happened to her. Janine makes the servants stop talking about his eyes. Asmar is also at the house, but he is less enthused to see his brother. He is bitter over what Azur’s father did.
Janine agrees to help Azur with his quest, just as she is helping Asmar. She sends Azur to see the Princess ( I can’t remember or spell her name) who gives him three gifts to help him. She gave these same gifts to Asmar, and now there is none left. (If you think this is convenient, then remember this is a fairy tale.)
The two men set out, and endure many difficulties, finally they reach the tunnels and caverns of the mountain where the Djinn Fairy is supposed to be. They get close, but then they are attacked by other men looking for her, who are not so honorable. Asmar gets stabbed for warning Azur, and Azur carries him into a tunnel. They find three doorways, one of fire, one of gases, one of sword blades. Azur uses the two keys he has, and then the one Asmar (of course) had, to open each door. Asmar is fading fast, but Azur carries him on till they come to two doorways. One leads to shadows, the other to the Djinn fairy. Azur chooses one in a hurry as Asmar is saying he’s going to die.
They find only blackness. But just as Azur is despairing, a voice gives command for light, and the whole room is lit by hundreds of light djinns, and the Djinn Fairy herself is sitting behind a wall of glass. Azur reaches for her and the wall shatters.
The Djinn fairy is able to save Asmar. But then they can’t decide who it was that actually saved her. Both boys say it was the other. They bring in more and more people (pretty much all the principal characters) to decide, no one can. Finally the Djinn fairy calls her cousin the Elf Fairy to come and decide. The Elf Fairy appears. She is white and blue eyed, whereas the Djinn Fairy looks Arabic.
She can’t choose either, but everyone else realizes that the answer is clear. One Prince for both fairies. The Djinn Fairy chooses Azur, and the Elf Fairy prefers Asmar. Neither Prince seems to have a preference. Everyone ends by dancing and living happily ever after.
This took way longer to tell than I expected, so I’ll try to sum up briefly why I thought it was worth sharing:
This is a very old sort of story. But that doesn’t mean it lacks depth. It covers themes like forgiveness, brotherly love, treating people equally no matter what they look like, and also self-sacrifice and true worthiness which comes from bravery and unselfishness and honesty. (Yes, like in Pinocchio.)
Three is also plenty of mythical danger and obstacles to satisfy the fantasy lover.
The only real flaw is in production. The movie is clearly low-budget. But once you’ve got through the first ten minutes, you stop caring, and the art is still pretty stunning in its own style.
Anyway, it may be out of stock, but if you can find it anywhere, I recommend checking it out.
Until next post–Natasha.
P. S. (Would you believe spell-check doesn’t recognize the traditional way to spell djinn? Honestly.)