The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
1958 | U | Dir.Nathan Juran | Kerwin Mathews, Kathryn Grant, Richard Eyer
Almost fifty years on, this film may seem dated (particularly for those only familiar with CGI monsters) but, in my opinion, it still has the power to captivate and amaze. With Ray Harryhausen’s wonderful stop motion effects (which include a cyclops, a dragon, a snake-woman, a giant two-headed bird and an animated skeleton) and a timeless magical tale of swashbuckling heroics, director Nathan Juran delivers a classic slice of fantasy cinema.
The amount of action scenes crammed into this less than 90 minute film is astounding, and despite this the film still retains a delightful sense of wonder, as one wonders what fantastic creation will show up next. Yes, some of the matt work looks a bit poor and the creatures are a little jerky, but the design and execution of the snake woman, cyclopes, rocs, dragon etc. is still astounding for the time, and some sequences, such as the battle with the the first cyclops and the duel with the skeleton, are still very exciting.
Great fun from start to finish, The 7th Voyage is packed full of great scenes (my favourite being the Cyclops preparing a tasty snack—spit-roasted sailor) and is perfect fare for fantasy-loving kids and adults alike.
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
1973 | U | Dir.Gordon Hessler | John Phillip Law, Caroline Munro, Tom Baker
After Sinbad (Jon Phillip Law) happens upon a strange gold “bauble” while at sea, his ship ends up at a town where a similar gold piece is kept by a Vizier (Douglas Wilmer), whose city is threatened by the evil prince Koura (Tom Baker). Sinbad, his crew, the Vizier, and two other people from the town begin an adventure to solve the mystery of the “baubles”.
The Harryhausen creatures are impressive. Stop motion animation does give solidity to the image, more so than the usual CGI effect. There are some fine ones here including a one eyed centaur, a homunculus, a griffin, a six armed statue, a ship’s wooden figurehead. The story is standard but the effects, the locations and the plot weave together well. There is also a dry humour in the dialogue which is entertaining. Scenes like the sword fight with the six armed statute (with six swords!) or the final confrontation at the fountain of wisdom (or something like that) are exciting. The great Miklos Rosza’s music adds considerably to the atmosphere.
The pace is possibly a little two leisurely, but the action is still terrific, the showstopper being Sinbad and his men battling the 6 armed statue of the Indian goddess Kali, a masterpiece of effects and editing. Tom Baker is the most sinister of all Harryhausen’s villains, and Miklos Rozsa’s wonderfully rich and grand score never fails to provide excellent backing.
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger
1977 | U | Dir. Sam Wanamaker | Patrick Wayne, Jane Seymour, Taryn Power
Sinbad the Sailor voyages to the mythic northern realm of Hyperborea to restore a caliph from an evil witch’s transformation.
This is an uneven conclusion to Ray Harryhausen’s celebrated “Sinbad Trilogy”. The troubled production began with a draggy script, budgetary restrictions and an inexperienced director; the film as released suffers from choppy editing, over-length and routine music scoring. One animation highlight (the giant walrus) is obscured by an optical snowstorm.
Yet, for all its flaws, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger remains an entertaining escapade in the old-fashioned Saturday-Matinée tradition. Costuming and settings are colorful and the film looks handsome in widescreen. Most importantly, Harryhausen’s realistic stop-motion animation is as extraordinary as ever, with two of the animated-puppet creatures — Kassim the Baboon and Trog the Troglodyte — successfully functioning as actual communicative characters within the body of the story. Other wonders include insectoid demons, an over-sized mosquito, Minaton the Brass Minotaur and the saber-tooth tiger of the title.
Genuine movie fantasy is a rare commodity, and Ray Harryhausen’s vision and conviction shine through the circumstances of production to make this a satisfying final visit to the land beyond Beyond.
• The 7th Voyage of Sinbad audio commentary with Ray Harryhausen
• Previously unreleased audio interviews with Ray Harryhausen and producer Charles H. Schneer
• New interviews with actors Tom Baker, Caroline Munro and Jane Seymour
• New interview with SFX maestro Phil Tippett
• Original Super 8 cut-down versions
• Archival documentaries, interviews and featurettes
• Original trailers and promotional films
• Isolated scores by Bernard Herrmann, Miklós Rózsa and Roy Budd
• Promotional and on-set photography, poster art and archive materials
• Box set exclusive 80-page book with new essays, and film credits