The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973)

Kali: one of Ray Harryhausen's greatest creations!
Kali: one of Ray Harryhausen’s greatest creations!

Sinbad (John Phillip Law), his crew, a Vizier (Douglas Wilmer) and a slave girl called Margiana (Caroline Munro) undertake a voyage to find the legendary Fountain of Destiny in Lemuria, but a master of black arts, Koura (Tom Baker), is also set on acquiring the Fountain’s gifts to conquer the land of Marabia.

UK quad poster
UK quad poster

Directed by Gordon (SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN) Hessler, this movie was the second of three Ray Harryhausen Sinbad films released by Columbia Pictures (the other two were THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD and SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER) and it’s my personal favourite.

Margiana is offered up to the God of the Single Eye... a centaur!
Margiana is offered up to the God of the Single Eye… a centaur!

For me THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD has the best ‘feel’ of the three Harryhausen Sinbad productions: the lighting is great, the sets are marvellous, it has the best dialogue and the general atmosphere is a satisfying mix of seriousness, fantasy, adventure and humour.

Sinbad fights for his life in a fine-looking Lemurian temple set
Sinbad fights for his life in a moody Lemurian temple set

The score by composer Miklós Rózsa is wonderful, especially during the exciting sword fight between Sinbad’s crew and a statue of Kali. Rózsa had provided the music for THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1940), a favourite film of Ray’s. THE THIEF OF BAGDAD had also featured green-skinned men and this Sinbad adventure has similar green tribesmen.

The main selling point of any Ray Harryhausen production is the chance to enjoy Ray’s stop-motion effects and THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD has a fine selection of animated adversaries, including the aforementioned many-armed Kali. Along with the Kali fight scene, the initial sequence that introduces Kali is also very well-done: the fact that Ray, through his stop-motion skills, imbues the six-armed statue with ‘life’ and then proceeds to show her dancing too is just amazing.

Kali throws some shapes
Kali throws some shapes

Other stop-motion creations include a wooden ship’s figurehead and winged homunculi. The scene in which Koura creates the second small homunculus from a jar of leaves and chemicals is effectively done, with the tiny creature acting as if it has just been born.

'Birth' of the homunculus
‘Birth’ of the homunculus
Koura uses his dark magic to animate the figurehead on Sinbad's ship
Koura uses his dark magic to animate the figurehead on Sinbad’s ship

There is also an impressive cyclopean centaur, which kidnaps Margiana, then does battle with a griffin!

Griffin versus centaur!

Some folks moan that the griffin just kind of strolls into the story to have a fight with the centaur and then gets killed. But this winged creature is performing a role set out in a prophecy told to Sinbad by the Oracle of All Knowledge (played by an uncredited Robert Shaw in striking makeup) and so, for me, the sudden appearance works fine because the griffin is functioning as part of the prophecy (which states “Destiny is a place where both good and evil wait” – the griffin obviously personifies the good) and when we see it get wounded by Koura so that the centaur can gain the upper hand in the battle, the griffin is again playing its part in the prophecy (“for it is the deeds of weak and mortal men that may tip the scales one way or the other.”)

The horned Oracle of All Knowledge is consulted
The horned Oracle of All Knowledge is consulted
Lobby card shows Sinbad taking on the centaur
Lobby card shows Sinbad taking on the centaur

Tom Baker, as Koura, ageing every time he uses his magic, is the best villain in the Sinbad trilogy of films, I think. John Phillip Law is a fine Sinbad (the best!) and the lovely Caroline Munro adds glamour as slave girl Margiana, dripping sex appeal in all her scenes. Douglas (JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS) Wilmer, as the badly burned Vizier, is hidden by a mask for most of the running time, but his voice is a great contribution to the film.

Tom Baker as Koura, surrounded by green tribesmen
Tom Baker as Koura, surrounded by green tribesmen
John Phillip Law and Caroline Munro
John Phillip Law and Caroline Munro
The Vizier reveals his scarred face to act as a distraction, so that Sinbad can escape the green men.
Douglas Wilmer as the Vizier reveals his scarred face to act as a distraction, so that the protagonists can escape the green men.
Sinbad offers the Vizier a crown of untold riches
Sinbad offers the Vizier a crown of untold riches
Sinbad and Rachid (Martin Shaw)
Sinbad and Rachid (Martin Shaw)

Ultimately, I think this Sinbad film stands out because its story uses the overarching theme of Destiny very well, in a script written by Brian Clemens that includes lots of chat peppered with praise to Allah, humour and colourful aphorisms: “My heart is filled with courage! But I have very cowardly legs.”

“Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel!”

Kali will be a real handful in a fight!
Kali is a real handful!

Some posters for the film…

Belgian poster
Belgian poster
Australian daybill poster
Australian daybill poster
US one sheet poster
US one sheet poster
East German poster
East German poster
US half sheet
US half sheet
West German poster
West German poster
Japanese poster
Japanese poster
US one sheet
US one sheet
1977 Czech A3 Poster
1977 Czech A3 Poster
US insert poster
US insert poster
Polish poster
1973 Czech A3 Poster
1973 Czech A3 Poster
Ghanaian hand-painted poster
Ghanaian hand-painted poster

Lobby cards…

Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card

VHS, DVD and Blu-ray covers…

US VHS cover
US VHS cover
Finnish VHS cover
Finnish VHS cover
Brazilian DVD cover
UK Blu-ray cover
UK Blu-ray cover
Spanish blu-ray cover
Spanish blu-ray cover
Spanish Blu-ray sleeve
Spanish Blu-ray sleeve

Marvel Comics did an adaptation of the movie…

Issue 7 of Worlds Unknown
Issue 7 of Worlds Unknown
Issue 8 of Worlds Unknown
Issue 8 of Worlds Unknown

Publicity photo…

Caroline Munro
Caroline Munro

Finally, here’s a Ray Harryhausen concept drawing that shows a proposed fight between the centaur and a giant Neanderthal Man…

The Neanderthal Man was replaced with a griffin in GOLDEN VOYAGE, but a Troglodyte would feature in SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER
The Neanderthal Man was replaced with the griffin in GOLDEN VOYAGE, but a big Troglodyte would feature in SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER

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