Some movies are made with a huge budget and are expected to be big blockbusters. Others are made on a shoestring and have much more variable luck. I’ve taken a chance on a lot of “B-Movies” simply because their subject matter included science fiction and or fantasy topics. I’m happy to announce that the lastest such experience, watching The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, was a completely satisfactory experience.
Sinbad has been in the theaters since last Thanksgiving. Thankfully, movies have reasonably long runs, and Sinbad was such a success that it’s no wonder it is still playing. My daughter and I saw it in a real cinema, rather than a drive-in, to get the full experience.
For those who don’t know, Sinbad the Sailor is the protagonist of seven tales in 1001 Arabian Nights. He’s a bit of an Arab Ulysses, discovering wondrous things on his sea trips. What I first noticed about Sinbad is how pretty it is, with glorious color, and costumes, sets, and monsters designed to take full advantage of it.
Sinbad and Perissa, the heroes of the movie
Sinbad starts right in the action with Sinbad’s crew stopping at the island of Colossa to reprovision, only to be assaulted by a one-eyed half-satyr giant referred to as a “Cyclops.” It’s truly a special effects triumph, thanks to the stop-motion expertise of one Ray Harryhausen. I understand he spent 11 months on the optics in Sinbad, and they are excellent.
Sinbad rescues the wizard Socura, who loses his magic lamp (complete with genie) in the escape. Socura insists that Sinbad return to Colossa for it, but Sinbad has a more pressing errand to run–to transport his lovely fiancee, Perissa, to Baghdad. Their marriage will preserve peace between the Caliphate and the belligerent realm of Chandra, Perissa’s father being the king of the latter, and Sinbad being a prince of the former.
The wicked Socura
Once in Baghdad, Socura makes increasingly insistent demands to be transported back to Colossa, ultimately shrinking Perissa to a few inches in height (though he makes sure to have an alibi so he is not implicated). Socura promises to restore Perissa if he is returned to Colossa, where he has the components to make a restorative potion. Sinbad reluctantly agrees.
Itty Bitty Perissa
I shan’t spoil the rest, but suffice it to say that Harryhausen’s effects remain the star attraction. He convincingly animates a genie, a two-headed roc, a dragon, more cyclopses, and even a fighting skeleton. The plot is rather childish, as befits a fairy tale, and the dialogue and acting are no great shakes. On the other hand, I greatly appreciated Perissa, who is daring and fun and saves the day several times. She is as much the hero as Sinbad.
The skeleton fight
So head out to the movies and enjoy this film. It has its problems, but there’s no arguing that it is a delightful romp and a spectacle second to none.
Next time, I promise, the rest of Astounding, which isn’t quite as bad as the first half, despite containing more Randy Garrett.
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