Blu-Ray Review: THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1973)
I still have memories from really early in childhood. I think my earliest memory is from when I was like 2 or 3. There’s this one photo I have of my grandfather, on my mother’s side, sitting on the couch holding me as a baby. I remember that moment exactly. And my earliest memory of seeing any kind of movie, or anything movie related, was the trailer for The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad.
Let’s see I was 4 when the movie came out at the theater and that’s probably when I saw this really bizarre trailer on TV one afternoon that fascinated me. It was the stop motion monsters that nabbed my attention. Of course being 4 at the time, and for years after, I always had this memory of seeing the commercial of some movie about this ship on the high seas in a storm with some guy tied to a mast as stop motion monsters fought each other around him. That was how my 4-year-old brain interpreted the trailer.
I think I finally saw the movie on TV one night many years later and finally realizing this was that commercial I saw way back when I was 4.
Personally, I think, those Greek mythology movies (Jason & The Argonauts, The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad, The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad, Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger and Clash Of The Titans) were some of the best ones he ever made, and the best of those 3 Sinbad movies is his Golden Voyage. It’s got the best cast, the best characters, the best storyline and some of the best mythological monsters. And it’s got the best actor, John Phillip Law, playing Sinbad; the most believable in my opinion.
In this movie Sinbad (Law) is pitted against Prince Koura, an evil sorcerer played to perfection by Tom Baker. As I understand it this is the movie that helped get Baker his Doctor Who role. Both are in a race to reach the mythical island of Lemuria where a tablet that’s been broken into 3 pieces will give the possessor untold riches and powers once assembled. Sinbad acquires two pieces, while the third is buried with a six-armed statue of the Goddess, Kali, the natives pray too.
Koura, however, is clever and manages to keep up with Sinbad and his riddle solving of the tablet by throwing his black magic at him and his crew, which takes the form of Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion magic; a homunculus Koura uses to spy on him at various points in the voyage, he then brings to life the figurehead on Sinbad’s ship to steal the map he just made, and then once they are on Lemuria he brings to life that aforementioned six-armed statue to kill Sinbad and his men, which results in one of the best humans-vs-a-stop-motion-monster battles Harryhausen ever created. I think it even tops the end battle in Jason And The Argonauts where Jason and three of his men take on a horde of animated skeletons.
To top it all off we get the traditional monster battle Harryhausen likes to put in his Sinbad movies where two mythological monsters battle to the death. In the 7th Voyage it was a giant Cyclops and a dragon, in Eye Of The Tiger it was a troglodyte and a saber-tooth tiger and in the Golden Voyage it’s a one-eyed centaur and a griffin.
All the monsters aside the second thing this movie is memorable for is the slave girl character, Margiana, played by the ravishing Caroline Munro (Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, At The Earth’s Core) who spends the entire running time of the movie decked out in skimpy clothing.
Twilight Time finally brings out The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad on blu-ray and the restoration Sony did to it is nothing less than stunning. Sony’s 2001 DVD was formatted at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the ratio stated on the back of this new blu also says 1.85:1, but the movie is cropped on the left and right a little bit. IMDB says the correct ratio is 1.66:1, so I’m going to assume this new blu has been formatted at that ratio and the 1.85:1 on the back cover is a misprint.
The audio—English 5.1 DTS-HD—is also much better than it’s standard DVD counterpart, which incidentally is still in circulation. I believe all the standard DVDs of Harryhausen’s Greek Myth movies are also still in circulation.
Extras ported over from that 2001 DVD are all three featurettes for The 3 Worlds Of Gulliver, Mysterious Island and Earth Vs The Flying Saucers, and the original theatrical trailer. The only new feature added is the Isolated Score, which is a requisite for all Sony blu-rays being distributed through Twilight Time.
Subtitles are in English only.
Twilight Time is a boutique label that presses only 3,000 units of any title they release. As of this writing both The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad and Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger are still available to buy. You can only buy Twilight Time discs from two sites—Screen Archives Entertainment and Shop.TCM.com.