The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is a 1958 fantasy film released by Columbia Pictures, directed by Nathan H. Juran and produced by Charles H. Schneer. It was the first of three Sinbad films made by Columbia which were conceptualized and animated by Ray Harryhausen and which used a special stop-motion technique called Dynamation (the others being The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger).
While similarly named, the film does not follow the plot of the tale "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor" but instead has more in common with "The Second Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor", which featured the giant roc bird.
In 2008, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Legendary adventurer Sinbad the Sailor (Kerwin Mathews) and his crew are lost on the ocean but accidentally find the island of Colossa. They land for provisions. There they encounter Sokura the magician (Torin Thatcher), fleeing from a giant Cyclops. They are able to escape when Sokura orders the genie of his magic lamp to create an invisible barrier. However, Sokura drops the lamp when the Cyclops throws a boulder into the sea, overturning their boat, though the men are able to swim to the ship. The Cyclops retrieves the lamp from the water after the barrier disappears. On board the ship, Sokura tells Sinbad about how many ships crashed on the island and the Cyclops collected all their treasure. He offers it to him if they turn back to get the lamp, but Sinbad refuses. He and Princess Parisa (Kathryn Grant), from the kingdom of Chandra, are on their way to Sinbad's native Baghdad to be married. Their union would cement ties between their two nations.
The Caliph of Baghdad (Alec Mango) allows Sokura to provide entertainment on the night before the wedding. However, this goes wrong when the "snakewoman" that Sokura had created nearly suffocates herself while trying to dance. Sokura saves the woman by spraying her with a magical spray to make her a full woman, but the torture of entertaining her just for the king angers Parisa and a few others watching. When Sokura prophecises war between the two nations when asked to look into the future, Sinbad lashes at him to stop. The Caliph is angered by this and refuses to provide a ship and crew to retrieve his lamp while threatening to have him blinded if he is not out of Baghdad before sunset. That night, the magician secretly shrinks Parisa to the size of a hand. When she is discovered, her father threatens Baghdad with war. Sinbad is able to find Sokura as he leaves the City. Sokura claims he knows of a potion that can restore Parisa, but it requires a piece of the eggshell of a roc, a giant, two-headed bird that coincidentally nests on the peaks of Colossa. The Caliph has no choice but to provide a ship. Sinbad enlists his loyal men from the previous voyage, but they are not enough and Sinbad is forced to recruit inmates from the Caliph's prison.
Before they reach the island of Colossa, the cutthroats mutiny and capture Sokura, Sinbad, and his men. During a storm, the sounds of screaming demons from an island south of Colossa madden the crew and the ship is in danger of being dashed upon the rocks where sea-serpents will devour the sailors. After the leader of the mutineers falls from the mast to his death, one of the mutineers releases Sinbad so he can save the ship.
On the island of Colossa, Sinbad, Sokura and some of the sailors enter the valley of the Cyclops where they find the treasure but are captured by the monster. The Cyclops prepares to have Sinbad's faithful lieutenant Harufa for dinner as Sokura focuses on getting the magic lamp and ignores the pleas of his comrades. However, the shrunken Parisa is able to open the latch on the cage the men are in, freeing them. Meanwhile the other men in the Valley have become drunk from a river that tastes like wine and attack the Cyclops. As Sinbad saves Harufa, the Cyclops chases after the men and kills many of them. Sinbad manages to blind the cyclops with a torch and leads it off a cliff to its death. Still needing Sokura to guide him, Sinbad takes possession of the lamp.
The party reaches the nest of the two-headed roc, just before a giant hatchling emerges from its shell. Some of the men break open the egg and slay it as they feel hungry. Parisa enters the lamp where she finds the unhappy boy genie Barani (Richard Eyer). He shows her an inscription inside the lamp of how he can be freed and tells her the words to summon him in return for her promise to free him. When the angry parent returns, it attacks and pushes the remaining men off the cliff. Meanwhile, Sokura kills Harufa when he prevents him from getting the lamp. Sinbad manages to retrieve both a fragment of an eggshell and the lamp but is captured by the Roc which drops him unconscious in its nest. The magician then abducts the tiny Princess and takes her to his underground fortress.
Sinbad recovers, is told by the Genie what happened, and climbs down into the valley of the Cyclops to the entrance of Sokura's cave. He slips past the chained guardian dragon Taro. Once found, the magician agrees to restore Parisa to her normal size in return for the lamp. However, Sinbad then refuses to give him the lamp until they get back to the ship, so Sokura brings to life a skeleton swordsman to challenge him. Sinbad eventually defeats it, and he and the Princess flee. As they cross over a river of molten lava, Sokurah causes part of the bridge to break off. The Princess summons the Genie who gives the two a rope to swing over. Parisa recalls part of the prophecy the genie told her about. She throws the lamp into the lava to free the genie from his captivity.
When the two leave the cave, they encounter another Cyclops. Sinbad releases the dragon who engages the cyclops in a fight to the death as Sinbad and Parisa make good their escape back to the shore. Sokura orders the victorious dragon to follow and kill them. However, Sinbad's men have time to organize a giant crossbow ballista and fire at the dragon. Sokura is accidentally crushed by the fatally wounded monster while Sinbad, Parisa, and the other survivors depart. They are joined by the genie, Sinbad's new cabin boy, who has placed the treasure of the Cyclops in Sinbad's cabin as a wedding gift.
- Kerwin Mathews as Sinbad
- Kathryn Grant as Princess Parisa
- Richard Eyer as Barani the genie
- Torin Thatcher as Sokura
- Alec Mango as the Caliph of Baghdad
- Harold Kasket as the Sultan
- Alfred Brown as Harufa, Sinbad's loyal right hand man
It took Ray Harryhausen 11 months to complete the animation sequences for the film.
Harryhausen gave the cyclops a horn, furry goat legs and cloven hooves, an idea based upon the concept of the Greek god Pan. He lifted much of the creature's design (for example the torso, chest, arms, poise and style of movement) from his concept of the Ymir (the monster from 20 Million Miles to Earth). He used the same armature for both creatures (to do this, he had to cannibalize the ymir, removing the latter's latex body).
He researched the cobra-woman sequence (when Sakourah entertains the Caliph and the Sultan) by watching a belly dancer in Beirut, Lebanon. During the performance, Harryhausen says "smoke was coming up my jacket. I thought I was on fire! It turned out the gentleman behind me was smoking a hookah!" The cyclops is the film's most popular character, but Harryhausen's personal favorite was the snakewoman, a combination of Princess Parisa's maid, Sadi, and a cobra.
The film's original script had a climax that involved two cyclopes fighting. However, in the final version, the climactic battle featured a cyclops versus a dragon. The model of the dragon was over three feet long and very difficult to animate; the fight took two to three weeks of Harryhausen's time. Originally it was planned to have the dragon breathing fire out of its mouth during the sequence, but the cost would have been too high. For the scenes where the dragon does breathe fire, Harryhausen used a flamethrower against a night sky and shot it out about 30 to 40 feet, then superimposed the shot in the area near the dragon's mouth.
The sword fight scene between Sinbad and the skeleton proved so popular with audiences that Harryhausen recreated and expanded the scene by having an army of armed skeletons fight the Greek hero Jason and his men in Jason and the Argonauts.
The term "Dynamation" was first used for this film.
The film's music was composed by Bernard Herrmann, better known for his collaboration with the director Alfred Hitchcock. Herrmann went on to write the scores for three other Harryhausen films, namely Mysterious Island, The 3 Worlds of Gulliver, and Jason and the Argonauts, but Harryhausen regarded the score for The 7th Voyage of Sinbad as being the finest of the four due to the empathy which Herrmann's main title composition displayed for the subject matter. The soundtrack producer Robert Townson, who re-recorded the score in 1998 with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, described the music as rich and vibrant, commenting "I would cite The 7th Voyage of Sinbad as one of the scores which most validates film music as an art form and a forum where a great composer can write a great piece of music. As pure composition I would place Sinbad beside anything else written this century and not worry about it being able to stand on its own."