The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
U.S.A. / 1958
Directed by
 Nathan Juran
Starring
Kerwin Mathews
Kathryn Grant
Torin Thatcher
Color / 88 Minutes / G
Format: DVD (R1 - NTSC)
Columbia TriStar Home Video
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50th Anniversary Edition
October 2008
   
 
8
    9   10 = Highest Rating  
Guest Review by Rod Barnett
There are some movies that, when mentioned, cause a spontaneous smile. The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is certainly one of these beloved films, able to generate big smiles and warm remembrances. Many a rainy afternoon has been whiled away absorbing Sinbad's adventures of sailing the high seas, battling evil sorcerers and escaping from dreadful gigantic beasts bent on eating our brave hero. I'm sure everyone reading this has a childhood memory of being glued to the screen (big or small) and seeing the fantastic sights that it seemed only Ray Harryhausen could bring to life. In the course of 35 years and 16 movies Mr. Harryhausen made some of the best and most successful fantasy films in the history of cinema. Anyone who loves cinema fantastique has a favorite even if they don't love them all. In addition to the three Sinbad movies, there's 20 Million Miles to Earth, Jason and the Argonauts, Mysterious Island, First Men in the Moon, One Million Years B.C., The Valley of Gwangi, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Clash of the Titans (1981), to name the most popular. Personally I love Harryhausen's movies with the joy of one who senses a kindred spirit. His films always delight me and leave me feeling good about the world and hopeful for the future. 7th Voyage of Sinbad wasn't the first of Harryhausen's movies I ever saw, but it is a good place for anyone to start.
    Captain Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews - The Pirates of Blood River, Octaman) is sailing to Baghdad with his fiancée after a successful peace mission to the neighboring kingdom of Chandra. He and his betrothed, Parisa (Kathryn Grant), a royal princess of Chandra, are very much in love. Mysterious winds have blown the ship off course for a week when they finally make landfall on Colossa, a legendary island. When Sinbad and some of the crew disembark to gather provisions they encounter Sokurah, a magician, being chased by a 30-foot tall Cyclops! Sokurah (Torin Thatcher) has taken a magical lamp containing a genie from the treasure hoard of the Cyclops and is attempting to escape. Sinbad, Sokurah and the landing party get off the island unharmed but the monstrous one-eyed beast reclaims the lamp. The wizard begs Sinbad to return immediately to steal the lamp but he declines, sailing on to Baghdad. Once there, Sokurah petitions the Caliph to finance an expedition to Colossa to slay the Cyclops and obtain the lamp. When the Caliph refuses, Sokurah secretly casts a spell, shrinking Parisa down to doll size.
    He then offers his 'help', claiming the only way to restore her to normal is by means of a magic potion
the main ingredient of which exists only on Colossa. With no alternative if he's to aid the woman he loves, Sinbad agrees to return to the island. For a such a dangerous voyage he must enlist a group of cutthroats, saved from the headsman's axe, to crew his vessel. When all is ready the ship sets sail. While Sinbad cares only for the restoration of the Princess, the evil Sokurah naturally has other plans...
   
I truly love this movie and my one fear on buying this DVD was that my memories of it would prove better than the film itself. Luckily my fears were groundless! More than 40 years after its original release, 7th Voyage is still able to excite and entertain like few films ever could. It's a lovingly crafted work of cinema magic that I can easily imagine thrilling audiences for decades to come. It takes itself (and its audience) seriously and knows that we want to see the monsters just as much as we want to see them defeated by the hero. Harryhausen never slights us in our desire for adventure and spectacle. He was making movies he wanted to see himself and that wide-eyed love for what he was doing is in every frame. If you can't enjoy this movie, I feel just a little sorry for you. It's not Harryhausen’s best film but it is very good.

Columbia's DVD release of 7th Voyage is quite a package. It was the first of a series called The Ray Harryhausen Signature Collection and contains enough to satisfy most fans. First, the transfer of the movie is very good with clarity missing from previous videotape transfers. I could wish for a slightly sharper picture but overall I'm happy with the way it looks. The picture is letterboxed at 1.85:1 here is my only real complaint. I firmly believe that the movie was shot with a 1.66:1 aspect ratio in mind; this is born out by statements made by Harryhausen that his effects were photographed using the entire 1.33:1 frame. As soon as I saw that this DVD was 1.85:1, I panicked.
    I just knew that heads were going to be lopped off and set design was going to be lost all in the name of over-matting the image to meet an artificial concept of "Original Aspect Ratio". But strangely enough I only found three shots in the movie that looked the least bit cramped and the worst of them was of a human actor, not a special effect. 99% of the movie looked correctly presented with the non-FX scenes looking perfectly framed. The audio track is presented in English, Spanish or Portuguese and retains the original Mono mix without the dubious addition of a 5.1 retrofit. Subtitles are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai.
    There are a number of extras on the disc. First up is a 12-minute short called Look Behind the Voyage that seems to be transferred from videotape. It's fairly interesting as a brief look at the making of the film and it does build excitement for the movie but to judge by the shirt that Ray is wearing it seems to have been made in the 1970s! Second is an 11-minute long piece in which Harryhausen is interviewed by director John Landis about Jason and the Argonauts. It's a little too brief, seeming to end just as it gets rolling, but it gives a good overview of Ray's techniques for creating special effects.
    The biggest of these extras is a 50-minute documentary called The Ray Harryhausen Chronicles. Narrated by Leonard Nimoy, it covers the high spots of Ray's life and career and had the effect of making me wish for a really good biography of the man. For most fans the real draw of this extra will be the large amount of very rare footage from Harryhausen's aborted film projects and early experiments in stop animation that are just not easy to find elsewhere. They are fascinating and now we have them in digital form so we can replay them again and again. Also included are trailers for seven of Harryhausen's other movies, talent files and a look at the original poster art.
    Altogether a satisfying disc and one I'm proud to own. If you're curious about old school special effects or just have fond memories of a fantastical adventure on the island of Colossa with Sinbad the sailor, this is a DVD you will enjoy. 6/14/02
UPDATE On October 7, 2008 Columbia is issuing a remastered "50th Anniversary Edition" of the film, containing all new extras, on both DVD and Blu-ray.
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