The Golden Voyage of Sinbad

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The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
Golden Voyage of Sinbad.jpg
Directed by Gordon Hessler
Produced by Charles H. Schneer
Ray Harryhausen
Written by Brian Clemens
Ray Harryhausen
Based on Sinbad the Sailor from One Thousand and One Nights
Starring John Phillip Law
Tom Baker
Takis Emmanuel
Caroline Munro
Douglas Wilmer
Martin Shaw
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Cinematography Ted Moore, BSC
Edited by Roy Watts
Production
company
Morningside Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • 20 December 1973 (1973-12-20)
(UK)
  • 5 April 1974 (1974-04-05)
(US)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $982,351
Box office $5 million (US/Canada) (rentals)[1]

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad is a fantasy film in Eastmancolor and Dynarama released in 1973 and starring John Phillip Law as Sinbad. It includes a score by composer Miklós Rózsa and is known mostly for the stop motion effects[2] by Ray Harryhausen. The film is the second of three Sinbad films that Harryhausen made for Columbia, the others being The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977).

It won the first Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film.

Plot[edit]

While sailing, Sinbad (John Phillip Law) comes across a golden tablet dropped by a mysterious flying creature. He wears the tablet as an amulet around his neck. That same night, Sinbad dreams about a man dressed in black, repeatedly calling Sinbad's name, as well as a beautiful girl with an eye tattooed on the palm of her right hand.

A sudden storm throws the ship off course, and the next day Sinbad and his men find themselves near a coastal town in the country of Marabia. Swimming to the beach, Sinbad encounters a man demands that he turn over the amulet. Sinbad narrowly escapes into the city, where he meets the Grand Vizier of Marabia (Douglas Wilmer). The Vizier, who wears a golden mask to hide his disfigured face, explains that Sinbad's amulet is but one piece of a puzzle, of which the Vizier has another. The Vizier relates to Sinbad a legend, which claims that the three pieces, when joined together, will reveal a map showing the way to the fabled Fountain of Destiny, hidden on the lost continent of Lemuria. He who takes the three pieces to the Fountain will receive "youth, a shield of darkness, and a crown of untold riches."

Sinbad agrees to help the Vizier in his quest for the Fountain, and they join forces against the evil Prince Koura (Tom Baker), the man from Sinbad's dream, a magician bent on using the Fountain's gifts to conquer Marabia. Koura had previously locked the Vizier in a room and set it on fire, resulting in the maiming of the Vizier's face. The creature that dropped the gold tablet was one of Koura's minions, a homunculus created by his black magic. Koura uses the creature to spy on Sinbad and the Vizier and learn of their plans.

Shortly afterward, Sinbad meets the woman he saw in his dream, a slave named Margiana (Caroline Munro). Her master hires Sinbad to make a man of his lazy, no-good son, Haroun (Kurt Christian). Sinbad agrees on the condition that Margiana comes along. Koura hires a ship and a crew of his own and follows Sinbad, using his magic several times to try to stop Sinbad. However, each attempt drains away a part of his life-force, and he ages noticeably each time.

On his journey, Sinbad encounters numerous perils, including a wooden siren figurehead on his own ship, animated by Koura's black magic, which manages to steal the map, enabling Koura to locate Lemuria. The wizard uses another homunculus to overhear the Oracle of All Knowledge (an uncredited Robert Shaw) describe to Sinbad what he will face in his search for the Fountain. Koura seals the men inside the Orcale's cave, but Sinbad uses a rope to get everyone out. Haroun manages to destroy the homunculus as it attacks Sinbad. After he is captured by hostile natives, Koura animates a six-armed Kali idol, causing the worshipful natives to set him free. Sinbad and his men arrive soon after. They fight and defeat Kali, and find the final fragment of the puzzle within Kali's remains; but the natives capture Sinbad and his crew and prepare to sacrifice Margiana to a one-eyed centaur, the Fountain's Guardian of Evil.

Sinbad and the others escape after the Vizier terrifies the natives into fleeing by removing his mask to reveal his charred face. After rescuing Margiana, they finally reach the Fountain of Destiny. They watch as the centaur fights the Guardian of Good, a griffin. With Koura's aid, the centaur prevails, only for Sinbad to stab and kill it. However, this gives Koura the opportunity to seize all three pieces of the puzzle. He drops two of them into the Fountain; the first restores his youth, while the second turns him invisible (the "shield of darkness"). Before he can claim the "crown of untold riches", however, Sinbad slays Koura in a sword duel. A jewel-encrusted crown then rises from the depths of the Fountain, which Sinbad gives to the Grand Vizier. The crown's magical properties cause the Vizier's mask to dissolve, revealing a restored, unscarred face. Their quest completed, Sinbad and his crew journey back to Marabia.

Cast[edit]

Screenwriter Brian Clemens helped Munro land the role of Margiana:

"I got the part – I had been signed by Hammer, for one year, for a contract, out of which I did two films, one being Dracula AD 1972, and the second one being Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter, which, kind of, would come full-circle, to Sinbad. It was written and directed by Brian Clemens, who wrote the screenplay for The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, so, I was lucky enough to be chosen for Captain Kronos, and they were searching for somebody to do Sinbad, and they wanted a big name, somebody American, or well-known, but Brian said "No". He kept lobbying Charles Schneer [producer] and Ray Harryhausen — saying: 'I think you should come and look at the rushes, and see what you think, because I think she's right'. So, they said "No", but, eventually, Brian persuaded them to do that, and they saw the rushes, and that was how I got the part."[3]

Production[edit]

Black and white photograph
Producer Charles Schneer and actress Caroline Munro in Amsterdam for the premiere of The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.

Producers Charles Schneer and Ray Harryhausen based their production in Spain (Madrid as well as the island of Majorca) to take advantage of the local rugged scenery. At one point the possibility of filming some scenes at the landmark Alhambra palace in Granada was raised; however, rental fees demanded by local authorities proved prohibitive. Eventually the company was able to film at the Royal Palace of La Almudaina. Other scenes were done in the Caves of Artà (the temple of the Oracle) and the Torrente de Pareis[4]

The miniature set for the Fountain of Destiny was fairly extensive for effects photography: the monoliths were 32 inches high and the fountain was constantly maintained at a height of 51 inches. The rock background was over 15 feet high and the whole thing was built on a wooden platform 32 inches from the ground[citation needed].

Ray Harryhausen confessed that when he was animating the centaur, he had in mind an opera tenor in his final death throes. The actual model of the centaur was about 13 inches high and had ocelot fur on its legs and a small doll's eye in its forehead. The figurehead in the movie was mostly seen as a model but the crew used a full-size mock-up for some shots, such as when it is sinking into the ocean[citation needed].

During production, Harryhausen was also preparing a project called King of the Geniis, which was to include Sinbad and dinosaurs. Harryhausen made a poster and three key drawings, but it was never produced because of the box-office disappointment of The Valley of Gwangi. Leftover ideas were incorporated into Golden Voyage[citation needed].

An early charcoal/pencil illustration showed the one-eyed centaur battling a giant Neanderthal-like creature, who was later ultimately replaced by a griffin in the final version. The idea of the Neanderthal was later featured in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977).[5]

When Sinbad drives his sword into the centaur's neck, a process called "shadow boxing" was used. Law played out the scene by himself, pin-pointing where the sword would stop and then the centaur's "neck" was added at that particular spot. Fernando Poggi provided his valuable expertise for the sword fight sequences. Poggi strapped two of his stuntmen together with a very large belt to help simulate the six arms of the living statue of Kali, giving the actors at least four arms to practice against[citation needed].

A "Valley of the Vipers" sequence was deleted.

The captioner for the movie had some fun with Koura's lines. When he is mumbling "foreign words" to cast a spell, the captions are backwards lines from Cocoa Puffs and Trix breakfast cereal commercials.

Adaptations[edit]

Home media[edit]

The film was released in the United Kingdom on VHS in 1991.

Blu-ray ALL America - Twilight Time - The Limited Edition Series[6]

Reception[edit]

The film had modestly favourable reviews. Rotten Tomatoes has given it a rating of 73% from 14 critics. The film was a box office success with a total revenue of $11 million including $5 million in rentals bringing its total gross to $16 million - the equivalent of $78,227,342 in 2016 dollars. The film was completed for $982,351, a remarkably small sum even for a film in the early 1970s[citation needed].

References[edit]

External links[edit]