Retro Review: 7th Voyage of Sinbad

In this review we take a look at the 1958 classic '7th Voyage of Sinbad'

Synopsis: The legendary Sinbad sets off on a perilous journey to the mystical island of Colossus to break the spell cast over his beloved princess.

Review: As many in the UK will know. This past Monday was a Bank Holiday, and for me, Bank Holidays bring back some fun memories from childhood when most often there’d be a movie on in the afternoon and not the usual day time crap we have to tolerate now. A lot of the time in the late 70s and throughout a great deal of the 80s and early 90s ITV or perhaps Channel 4 in later years would show a Ray Harryhausen movie, and one that was shown quite often was 7th Voyage of Sinbad, which was the first of a series of fantasy movies that Ray Harryhausen would make with producer Charles H. Schneer. Prior to making these films. Harryhausen was best known for his stop motion work on science fiction movies such as ‘Earth Vs The Flying Saucers’ and ’20 Million Miles to Earth.’ But it wasn’t until doing these fantasy movies that Harryhausen would become a household name among fans of genre film and television.

As a child growing up. And even as an adult. I always go back to watching a Harryhausen movie on the Bank Holidays because they remind me of a time in my life when I didn’t have quite as much responsibility and my mind was open to new possibilities and adventures.

The Story

The story for this film is pretty straight forward as were most of the Sinbad movies. Harryhausen who did all of the effects work and created all the stop motion creatures was a lover of mythology from various different cultures and the character of Sinbad was taken from a 1001 Nights, which was a collection of middle eastern stories. In the movie, Sinbad is sailing back to Bagdad with his crew and the beautiful Princess, who he is destined to marry. They become lost at sea and while searching for land they come across the island of Colossus where they meet the evil magician Sokurah who is obsessed with getting his lamp back. As they return to Bagdad Sokurah is going all out to persuade the Sultan to grant him a crew and a ship so he can return to Colossus. When he is refused Sokurah puts a curse on the Princess shrinking her in size and uses her as leverage to get Sinbad and the Khali to agree to a return expedition so he can retrieve his lamp from the island.

What follows is 90 minutes of magical adventure in which Sinbad takes on an awesome collection of monsters, which include the Cyclops. a saber wielding skeleton, and a two-headed bird called the Roc. Along the way, he meets the Genie of the Lamp and manages to beet Sokurah with a little help.

The Acting

Kerwin Matthews plays Sinbad and comes off as a little bit wooden given that he is totally downstaged by a powerhouse performance from Torin Thatcher who oozes menace and evil as the manipulative and very dangerous Sokurah.

Overall

Okay. So a lot of the camera work and effects do not hold up well compared to today, but given that this movie was made on much less of a budget than it would be today. Harryhausen and his team achieve quite a lot and the fact is. The creatures that we see in this film have a lot more hearth and feel to them than their modern-day CGI equivalents. It’s amazing the level of emotion and characterization that Harryhausen manages to convey with his stop motion creations. I mean when I saw the dragon die at the close of the film. I kind of felt sorry for it. Yet when I saw the Dragon get snuffed out in the second Hobbit movie. I didn’t particularly care.

The film is helped somewhere by the thumping soundtrack from Bernard Herman, who scored a massive catalog of movies in the 1950s and was sort of the precursor to the likes of John Williams and the many composers we enjoy today. Though I have to admit. It felt like Herman was phoning it in a little with this one. Especially when you listen to the work he did on ‘Around The World In 80 Days.’ 

If you look past some of the optical effects and such. Then you can still very much enjoy this film as a great way of escaping from reality for 90 minutes.

Overall. It still plays well and the only thing that dates it more than some of the visuals are the haircuts, which all look very 1950s. This film was only the beginning for Harryhausen, who would go on to make such classics as ‘Jason and the Argonauts’, ‘Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger’, and, ‘Clash of the Titans’.

And in turn. All the above films would inspire filmmakers such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Tim Burton to name just a few.

8.6
7th Voyage of Sinbad
  • Story
    8.8
  • Acting
    8.5
  • Visual Effects & Stop Motion
    9.1
  • Incidental Music
    8.0

Ian Cullen is the founder of scifipulse.net and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: www.scifipulseradio.com When he is not writing for scifipulse.net Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of scifipulse.net You can contact ian at: ian@scifipulse.net
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