The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

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Released 2-May-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Gallery-Poster
Featurette-A Look Behind The Voyage (11:48)
Featurette-Jason And The Argonauts (11:54)
Featurette-This Is Dynamation (3:27)
Featurette-Ray Harryhausen Chronicles (57:58)
Theatrical Trailer
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-Jason And The Argonauts, Golden Voyage Of Sinbad
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1958
Running Time 84:34
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Nathan Juran
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Kerwin Mathews
Kathryn Grant
Richard Eyer
Torin Thatcher
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $36.95 Music Bernard Herrmann


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (256Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (256Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (256Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (256Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Regular readers of these pages may remember that the first review of mine that graced this site way back (well it seems like it) in August, 1999 was of Columbia TriStar's release Jason and The Argonauts. At the time, I found that Jason and The Argonauts was a welcome return to those glorious days of the Saturday matinee, when as kids we lived for such films that not only spirited us away to magical worlds and stories, but also held us in wonder with their dazzling effects. Of course, back when we were kids, we were not too concerned that the genius behind those effects was Ray Harryhausen. But older, and hopefully a little wiser, we now recognize how great the work of Ray Harryhausen was, and indeed still is, and the fact that he almost single-handedly elevated the art of special effects to a new plane, influencing whole generations of special effects artists in the process. And whilst I would personally suggest that the advent of a second Ray Harryhausen extravaganza onto Region 4 DVD is about eight months overdue, I nonetheless welcome another of his great films - there was no way that I was missing out on reviewing it! Okay, this really is another piece of B-grade matinee fodder, but who cares when we get to see more of Ray Harryhausen's work on display.

    Like most of Ray Harryhausen's films, the story leaves just a little to be desired, but to be brutal, they are B-grade matinee films and we were not really looking for Leo Tolstoy here. This incarnation of the Harryhausen extravaganza obviously highlights that great seafarer in Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews). Having arranged a treaty between his home of Baghdad and Chandra, Sinbad gets the prize of a new bride in Princess Parisa (Kathryn Grant). During their voyage home to Baghdad, and a wedding, they become desperate for food and water, discovering just in time an island - but no ordinary island. This island is Colossus, home of the Cyclops and the legendary bird, the Roc. It also happens to be the secret hideaway of mysterious Sokurah the Magician (Torin Thatcher). Having discovered the Cyclops, Sinbad and his crew make a narrow escape but in the process Sokurah loses the magic lamp (and the genie therein) that he controls. Upon their return to Baghdad, Sinbad is hailed a hero and everything is swell until Sokurah demands a ship to return to Colossus to find the lost lamp. With the Caliph (Alec Mango) less than supportive, Sokurah forces the issue by casting an evil spell on Parisa, causing her to shrink to minute proportions. In order to reverse the spell, Sinbad must travel to Colossus to find the last ingredient for a magic potion, and along the way face the dangers of the Cyclops, a fire breathing dragon, a sword swinging skeleton, the legendary two headed Roc and a magician hell bent on getting his lamp. In the process, Sinbad also manages to set free Baronni the genie (Richard Eyer).

    Okay, in the light of forty odd years of films that have gone by since this film was released in 1958, there are more than enough obvious plot holes here, as well as numerous technical glitches. But that is to ignore the impact of the film completely in the context of the time it was made. Although it was released in 1958, filming actually started around 1956 for it took Ray Harryhausen up to eighteen months to complete the special effects work on the film. At the time, they had barely ironed out the problems of stop motion animation with black and white film, let alone with colour film as used here. But Ray Harryhausen was never one to avoid a challenge, so whilst the effects may look a little amateurish nowadays, the results in 1958 parlance were staggering. And there is no doubt that a lot was learnt on this film that was used in putting together the infinitely more complex Jason and The Argonauts five years later. Whilst the acting here is quite decidedly B-grade, the whole effect was nonetheless a film that oozed matinee and should be remembered because of that.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    So it was started in 1956 and released in 1958 - the fact that this is showing its age a little is hardly to likely to surprise. However, just like the earlier release, the overall quality of the video transfer is good, indicating that Columbia TriStar have spent some time in restoring the original.

    The video transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced. Interestingly, the Internet Movie Database lists the theatrical aspect ratio as being 1.37:1, but I would suspect that in this instance that may be incorrect.

    Just like the earlier release, there are some problems with softness and grain in the transfer. Whilst the transfer is in general reasonably sharp, there are a number of short sequences of softness in focus, which is probably a reflection of problems with the original film rather than any mastering problem. Counterbalancing the short periods of softness, however, are some periods of some quite surprisingly sharp sequences that belie the age of the film. Obviously, with the limitations of stop motion animation techniques forty-odd years ago, and the less than consistent nature of the relatively recent widespread switch to colour film stock, we do end up with a fair degree of grain in the transfer, and this is heightened during the stop motion animation sequences. Whilst it is quite noticeable, especially when the action switches between pure live action and stop motion sequences, I would not rate this as being unduly distracting to the overall film. Shadow detail is generally quite reasonable, clearly belying the age of the film. This is not what I would call a clear transfer, and overall the film stock is showing its age pretty well.

    Surprisingly, I found the colours here to be quite vivid at times and overall they are consistently rendered. Obviously, there is a degree of variation in colour during the stop motion sequences, but this is again an inherent problem with the technique at that time. But at its best this is, for its age, a quite vibrant transfer - and the opening credits are quite stunning in this regard. I would have to say that overall, the colours here are slightly better than in Jason and The Argonauts.

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen and there were no apparent film-to-video artefacts: most of the problems here I would say are nothing to do with the mastering but rather due to the inherent problems with film stock bordering on 45 years of age. These were mainly manifested in the odd scratch mark in the transfer. Obviously film artefacts were present but overall far less than I was expecting and even those that were present were barely a distraction.

    The disc is a Dual Layer format disc, although no layer change was noted during the film. I would suspect that the film is mastered on one layer with the extras on the second layer.

Audio

    This is at best an adequate soundtrack, with minimal remastering having been done to the original mono soundtrack.

    There are five soundtracks on the DVD, all Dolby Digital 2.0 mono: the default English soundtrack, plus French, German, Italian and Spanish. I listened to the default English soundtrack, with some very brief sampling of the other soundtracks.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times.

    There seemed to be some very minor audio sync problems during the film, but from my recollection this was a problem in the original film and therefore is not a mastering problem. It is unlikely to be bothersome to most people.

    The music score comes from Bernard Herrmann, one of two soundtracks of his to be released in this batch of discs from Columbia TriStar Home Video (the other is Vertigo). Whilst he reached a pinnacle with his work for Vertigo, his effort here is by no means without merit and at times makes a suitably powerful contribution to the film with some suitably Middle Eastern sounds to match the location of the film.

    What could we really expect from a mono soundtrack of this vintage? Whilst it is mercifully free of distortion and is generally clear and quite bright sounding, obviously their is nothing in the way of support from any of the surround or bass channels. The mono sound is not without its charms, and it is far less front and centre sounding than some mono soundtracks I have heard. Overall, acceptable stuff without being anything too special.

Extras

    Well I suppose after setting some sort of standard with the release of Jason and The Argonauts it was necessary to dig out something at least as good for this release - and in general they have.

Menu

Theatrical Trailer

    This is of relatively poor quality only, presented in full frame, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound. The main problem is that the trailer is riddled with film artefacts, especially early on that detract a little from the effect, but probably no worse than we should expect for a forty plus year old film.

Other Theatrical Trailers

    These are of slightly better quality, reflecting their slightly later vintage, presented in full frame, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound. The trailers are for Jason and The Argonauts and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad: the latter is apparently a forthcoming release on Region 4 DVD.

Featurette - A Look Behind The Voyage (11:48)

    This is an interesting enough 11 minute interview, comprising interview segments from Ray Harryhausen, producer Charles H. Schneer and Kerwin Mathews, presented in full frame, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It gives some reasonably interesting snippets of information in regards to the making of the film in Spain. Note that at one point Kerwin Mathews refers to his co-star as Kathy Crosby - Kathryn Grant shortly after making this film married Bing Crosby and retired from show business. A nice addition to the package.

Featurette - Jason and The Argonauts (with John Landis) (11:54)

    This is also an interesting enough 11 minute interview, done in chat style by John Landis, presented in full frame, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. This is repeated from Jason and The Argonauts, but still remains a nice inclusion even if you already have that DVD, as well as being a nice disc filler.

Featurette - The Harryhausen Chronicles (narrated by Leonard Nimoy) (57:58)

    This is a quite extensive 57 minute look at the work of Ray Harryhausen, with input from such names as Ray Bradbury and George Lucas, presented in full frame, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. For aficionados of film effects, this is a great summation of the development of the art by the legend himself. It shows how effects work developed across the films he did, from the original "Mighty Joe Young" through to the film that created Rachel Welch "1,000,000 Years B.C.". This again however is repeated from Jason and The Argonauts, but still remains a d*** nice inclusion even if you already have that DVD, as well as being a nice disc filler. It was good to return to it again after nine months.

Featurette - This Is Dynamation (3:27)

    This is an almost insufferable studio pontification about the "dynamation" technique employed by Ray Harryhausen, redeemed only by the fact that amongst the promotional thrust of the thing, there is actually some reasonably interesting insight into how some effects were done - notably the shrinking arm effect. Presented in full frame, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Biographies

    Decent enough, albeit somewhat incomplete biographies for the main cast members and the director - plus of course Ray Harryhausen.

Gallery - Poster

    A singular still of the original promotional poster.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version misses out on:     The Region 1 version misses out on:     Personally, I would not consider the additional trailers sufficient inducement to indulge in the Region 1 version, but others may disagree.

Summary

    Whilst The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is in most respects not up to the quality of the later Jason and The Argonauts, Harryhausen fans will need no other reason to indulge in this disc. If you remember the fond days of Saturday afternoon matinees, then again you should need no other reason to indulge. All others - well worth casting your eyes over, even if it is not quite in the league of the earlier release.

    A good video transfer for its age.

    An acceptable audio transfer for its age

    A very good collection of extras, even if repetitive of the earlier release.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Wednesday, May 03, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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