The 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD is universally considered one of the best of all the Sinbad films. And a large part of the reason for that is the masterful effects work by Ray Harryhausen. Anyone who saw this film as a child knows that the images and effects are unforgettable, burned into our collective psyches.
This was Harryhausen’s baby. He shopped the idea around from studio to studio for a number of years to no avail, but finally found a comrade in producer Charles H. Schneer, who had produced earlier films for which Harryhausen had done visual effects. This would be the continuation of a long and fruitful relationship that went on to bring us such wondrous classics as THE 3 WORLDS OF GULLIVER, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, the much beloved JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, as well as THE VALLEY OF GWANGI, THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD, SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER, the original CLASH OF THE TITANS and many, many others.
It’s hard to say exactly how this film should look, but the Blu-ray for VOYAGE is quite lovely. Flesh tones appear more or less accurate, if not a little pushed, but never to the point of distraction. Film grain is present and that’s a great thing given that excessive grain removal has been used on other transfers to horrendous effect. VOYAGE maintains its natural film grain with no apparent manipulation. Most of the images are quite sharp and detailed, and those images that do appear softer are clearly products of the original elements and not an anomaly due to a poor transfer. Sony’s MPEG-4 AVC 1080p transfer won’t disappoint fans of the film that want the film to look like just that: film.
Sony has chosen to release VOYAGE in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio despite the fact that it was shown theatrically in 1.85:1. The most likely reason for this is that Harryhausen never liked the wider screen formats and wanted to make VOYAGE in 1.33:1. There are those who sensed that the 1.85:1 frame always felt a bit tight for this pic, so Sony’s re-framing is a compromise that opens the frame up just a bit more and allows it to breathe.
Sony’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 remix is a joy and creates a solid sound field that is quite surprising for a film of this age. Wind and ocean sounds are truly immersive and the LFE channel even gets a bit of a workout (check out the Cyclops banging on an invisible wall!). The original mono track is also included.
All in all, THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD is still a terrifically entertaining film and this Blu-ray will not disappoint its legions of fans.
And to add to the Harryhausen celebration, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles is currently holding a Ray Harryhausen exhibit running through August 22nd. There you will find original models, drawings, storyboards and behind-the-scenes photographs, as well as clips from the many films themselves. This is NOT to be missed!