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
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
Morningside Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • 20 December 1973 (1973-12-20)
  • 5 April 1974 (1974-04-05)
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 Dynarama released in 1974 and starring John Phillip Law as Sinbad. It includes a score by composer Miklós Rózsa and is known mostly for the stop motion effects[citation needed] 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.


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 night, Sinbad has a strange dream in which he sees a man dressed in black, repeatedly calling Sinbad's name, and also about a mysterious girl with an eye tattooed on her right palm. During his sleep, a mysterious storm throws his 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 is met by a dark-cloaked man, who demands his amulet. Sinbad narrowly escapes into the city, where the city guard forces the hostile stranger to flee. Soon, Sinbad encounters the Grand Vizier of Marabia (Douglas Wilmer). The Vizier, who wears a golden mask to hide his disfigured face, says that Sinbad's amulet is actually one piece of a puzzle; the Vizier has another. The Vizier relates to Sinbad a legend that the three pieces, when joined together, will reveal a map showing the way to the Fountain of Destiny, hidden somewhere on the lost continent of Lemuria. The legend tells that he who bears the three pieces of the puzzle to the fountain will receive "youth, a shield of darkness, and a crown of untold riches."

Sinbad agrees to help the Vizier find the fountain. They join forces against Prince Koura (Tom Baker), the black-cloaked man who is an evil magician bent on conquering Marabia. Koura had locked the Vizier in a room and set it on fire, horribly burning his face. The creature that dropped the gold tablet was one of Koura's minions, a homunculus created by his black magic. Using this creature he hears the conversation, and it turns to ash when it is found.

Shortly afterward, Sinbad meets the girl he saw in his dream, Margiana (Caroline Munro), a slave-girl. Her master hires Sinbad to make a man of his lazy, no-good son Haroun (Kurt Christian), and Sinbad agrees on the condition that Margiana goes with him; so the two new passengers and the Vizier board Sinbad's ship. Koura hires a ship and crew of his own and follows Sinbad, using his magic several times to try to stop Sinbad. However, each attempt drains away part of his life force and he ages noticeably each time.

Along his journey, Sinbad fights the wooden siren figurehead from his own ship which Koura has animated, which steals the map, enabling Koura to find the Island. Koura gets to the Island and uses another homunculus to hear the Oracle of All Knowledge (an uncredited Robert Shaw) as it describes to Sinbad what he will face. Koura then seals the men inside the cave, but Sinbad is able to escape with a rope and get the others out; the Homunculus is killed by Haroun as it tries to stop Sinbad. Koura animates a six-armed Kali idol when he is captured by hostile natives, causing them to free him. However, Sinbad and his men arrive, and fight and defeat Kali. The natives capture Sinbad and his crew and give Margiana to a one-eyed centaur, the fountain's guardian of evil.

Sinbad and the others escape when the Vizier shows his burnt face, scaring the natives. After recovering Margiana, they reach the fountain and, once there, witness the Centaur fighting the fountain's guardian of good, a griffin. Both seem reasonably matched until the centaur prevails with Koura's help; but Sinbad then stabs it dead. Koura obtains all the pieces and drops two of them into the fountain, restoring his youth and becoming invisible (the "shield of darkness"). However, he is slain in a sword duel by Sinbad, who then takes the "crown of untold riches" that rises out of the fountain and gives it to the Grand Vizier, unwilling to trade his freedom for royal power. The crown's magic powers causes the Vizier's mask to dissolve to reveal his healed face, and Sinbad journeys back to Marabia with Haroun, who has proven himself during the adventure, as a new crew member and Margiana by his side.



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[citation needed].

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 replaced by a griffin in the final version. The idea of a Neanderthal was later featured in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977).[2]

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 swordfight 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.


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[3]


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. The film was completed for $982,351, a remarkably small sum even for a film in the early 1970s[citation needed].


  1. ^ "All-time Film Rental Champs", Variety, 7 January 1976 p 48
  2. ^ Dalton, Tony. The Art of Ray Harryhuasen. London: Aurum, 2005, pg 178.
  3. ^
  4. ^ ‘The Fantastic Films of Ray Harryhausen’ Making Australian Blu-ray Debut

External links[edit]