Saturday, 25 May 2013

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

Colour ho!! yes my friends we enter the realms of colourful fantasy now, Harryhausen's work in a new light so to speak. The first Sinbad adventure curiously based on his 7th voyage and not starting at his first, but this film bares little resemblance to the original tale.

First strange thing you notice is the fact Sinbad is played by a white male (Kerwin Matthews), a white male without the slightest hint of trying to look even remotely Middle Eastern hehe. Anyway the story is quite a jumble really with many plot holes its funny. Sinbad and his crew rescue a magician from a remote island just before he becomes cyclops fodder, the thing is that's where the magician lives so doesn't he know how to deal with cyclops?

The plot unfolds around the naughty magician wanting to go back to this island so he can pinch the cyclops treasure...but if he lives on this island why bring this up now? he could have done this anytime no? The really amusing thing is the magician is denied access to a ship and crew to go back, so he casts a spell on Sinbad's princess and shrinks her. Sinbad then comes to the magician for help only to discover that the only way the spell can be broken is by going back to the remote island for some special ingredients, gee what a surprise. On top of that no one suspects that the naughty magician may have had something to do with this spell so he could get back to his island.

So yeah there are some plot issues which to be honest are more charming and quaint rather than annoying. Its all very very cheesy and hammy but naturally you come to expect this. The main crux of the film of course is the nice array of creatures animated by Harryhausen. Not all are my cup of tea, the two headed Roc bird does nothing for me and neither did the snake woman. Its the main creatures that are the highlights, the wonderful dragon, the first look at a battle with a skeleton warrior and of course the muscle bound cyclops.

Its funny that when you look at these models you can easily tell that Harryhausen used them for other creature incarnations in later films. There was a lot of recycling going on with his models, the cyclops from the Ymir, the snake woman to Medusa and the skeleton warrior expanded for 'Argonauts'.

The film is chock full of fantastical creatures and easily one of the best Sinbad films. Only some of the actors let it down really, Matthews is stoic and dashing as the titular hero but the biggest kudos must go to Torin Thatcher as the magician. Not only does he look terrific with his heavily tanned bald looks but his accent is a joy to listen to, complete panto performance of course but a such sheer fun to watch. The rest of the crew (creature fodder) are pretty terrible frankly, not that that's a problem, its funny to see them try and interact with the creatures and give credible deliveries.

The start of a whole new world for Harryhausen's work and the beginning of many historic mythical adaptations.