Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Twilight Timey: THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD on Blu-ray ""

Monday, December 30, 2013

Twilight Timey: THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD on Blu-ray

In taking my son to see Peter Jackson's latest epic, THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG, I couldn't help but let thoughts drift to Harryhausen afterwards. What an amazing (and heartwarming) legacy of influence he has had and continues to have. One of the great genres that cinema can bring to life is fantasy. Fantasy films have the indelible ability to transport us from that seat in a crowded multiplex to truly another world. There is little that I enjoy more than losing myself in a place of darkness, magic and remarkable fictional creatures. Jackson's new HOBBIT features a pretty amazing sequence with a dragon that certainly would have been a completely different animal (pun intended) had the film been made in the 1960s or even 70s. While it's tough not to marvel at such a sequence done with the latest CGI effects, lest we forget the man who inspired a veritable legion of filmmakers and special effects artists to do what they do. If I had a nickel for every time I've heard a prominent present-day filmmaker mention seeing THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD and how it blew there mind as a kid, I'd have a large sack of silver in my possession. 
The cinematic adventures of SINBAD with effects by Ray Harryhausen ran from 1958 to the 1977. GOLDEN VOYAGE arrived in theaters in 1973, late in the cycle. THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, arguably the best of the bunch came out in 1958. Harryhausen's effects were quite novel around that time but may have seemed less sophisticated in 1973 (and the stories themselves may have been not quite what the public was looking for at that time). That being said, the films as a group are lovely fantasy adventures and Harryhausen's work on them  holds up to any he did previously. He really brought a wonderful flavor to that type of film and it still seems like a perfect combination of storytelling elements.
Let's talk about Caroline Munro for a second. She is positively gorgeous here. She was one of those cool gal veterans of genre fare like this Her resume reads like a fun month-long lineup of drive-in features: STARCRASH, CAPTAIN KRONOS - VAMPIRE HUNTER, AT THE EARTH'S CORE, THE LAST HORROR FILM, SLAUGHTER HIGH, MANIAC and two DR. PHIBES films! She's a cult actress if there ever was one and I always hope more folks will stumble upon her work. Her most widely seen film was probably THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. I can't explain just what it was about her, I mean she's obviously a stunning beauty, but there's also something about the look on her face a lot of the time. It has this air of mischievousness about it, like she can't completely be trusted. But the thing about her is that she, much like a mermaid, is oddly mesmerizing onscreen so one finds oneself sucked in rather easily. She is absolutely a highlight in this film along with the aforementioned Harryhausen effects.
The Blu-ray transfer looks quite nice here, however, as can be expected, the scenes with special effects stand out more as lower quality (because of the matting and other processes used). It's not too distracting if you're used to it, but you may notice it of course.
Included on this disc are several short featurettes on MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, THE 3 WORLDS OF GULLIVER and EARTH VS THE FLYING SAUCERS. All three are about 7-11 mins in length and feature Harryhausen speaking about the processes involved in making the special effects for each of the films. The FLYING SAUCERS featurette has Joe Dante interviewing Harryhausen which is pretty neat. 
Twilight Time's Blu-rays can be found at Screen Archives.com: http://www.screenarchives.com/display_results.cfm?category=546

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