Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Classic Rewind- The Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad For Your Old School Sword and Sorcery Campaigns

Just yesterday I secured this wonder classic on VHS, because I collect vintage tapes and  this was on my list. It doesn't get any better for Ray Harryhausen fans or Old School movie buffs. 
According to wiki :
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).

 Major Spoilers ahead! 
The plot according to Wiki : 
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 Sokurah the magician (Torin Thatcher), fleeing from a giant Cyclops. They are able to escape when Sokurah orders the genie of his magic lamp to create an invisible barrier. However, Sokurah 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, Sokurah 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 Sokurah to provide entertainment on the night before the wedding. However, this goes wrong when the "snakewoman" that Sokurah had created nearly suffocates herself while trying to dance. Sokurah 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. Later, Sokurah prophecises war between the two nations when asked to look into the future. 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 Sokurah as he leaves the City. Sokurah 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 Sokurah, Sinbad, and his men. However, 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, after which sea-serpents will devour the sailors. One of the mutineers releases Sinbad so he can save the ship and the leader of the mutineers falls from the mast.
On the island of Colossa, Sinbad, Sokurah and some of the sailors enter the valley of the Cyclops where they find the treasure but are captured by the monster. It almost has one of Sinbad's men for dinner but they later save him. Sokurah 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. They attack the Cyclops, but many are killed. Sinbad manages to blind the cyclops with a torch and leads it off a cliff to its death. Still needing Sokurah to guide him, Sinbad takes possession of the lamp. 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.
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, which incites an attack by the infuriated parent. Meanwhile, Sokurah kills Sinbad's faithful lieutenant 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 Sokurah's cave. He slips past the chained guardian dragon. 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 Sokurah 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. Sokurah 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. Sokurah 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.

This is perhaps one of the most iconic of childhood films. And there are a few things right off of the bat to look at for Sword And Sorcery games. 
Sokurah is the perfect S&S magician. A lawfully evil Aliaster Crowley like figure of genius and menace all in one. Want to know what it would really be like to deal with a lawful evil magician in the party? Here's your perfect answer. We know very little about this mysterious wizard. Except three things : A. he has been operating upon the isle of Colossa for sometime, B. He will do whatever it take to aquire the Lamp of The Genie, C. He knows much about the original inhabitants of Colossa and perhaps they're forgotten mystical knowledge is the basis for his powers. 
Seventh voyage of sinbad.jpg
Speculations about The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad
For Your Old School Sword and Sorcery 

The Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad seems like a cut and dry 'G' rated family film. And for the most part its a great adventure fare film.
The fact is that this is pretty damn complex film when you come down to it. Right after the credits we're thus into the world of Colossa and machinations of 
Sokurah. We shoved right into this tropical lost island  and encounter one of the most iconic Harryhausen monsters around, the goat footed cyclops. I always got the feeling that there were more then one of those things on that island.
Sokurah is one cagey wizard and I'd estimate he's been on that island for quite some time. As I've speculated earlier the technology, magical knowledge, and wonders of Colossa are the basis for his powers. His most formidable power is his cunning and evil mind. He'd make a hell of a patron for a party of adventurers who might encounter him prior to his experiences with Sinbad. 
And that desert island bothered me. Why would a micro climate island like that have such an abundance of fruit baring plants and trees? What is with the near perfect weather and the legendary creatures that inhabitant it. Colossa is a near mystical place and I believe that the original inhabitants of the isle were deep into sorcery and super science. 
Looking into the island I think that it could have been a Lemuria or Atlantian colony. The island might have survived the cataclysm that destroyed Atlantis and survived well into the era of Sinbad.  Further I think that these are the same ancient's ruins we encounter much later in 
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger).
And what about Colossa itself before 
Sokurah blow it up. His workshop hints that there might be extensive ruins below ground. What other wonders were lurking down in the extensive mega dungeons of Colossa?
The workshop has always reminded me of the Krell laboratory in Forbidden Planet. A dusty workshop filled with forbidden wonders and tools looted by 
Sokurah. Who knows what secrets are still there? What treasures are still waiting for some madmen or fools to grab what remains. 
The Seventh Voyage is a great resource for a Sword and Sorcery game. Very low powered magic, lots of monsters, weird ruins, and a grand dragon!
Let's not even get into the fact that two nations are about to go to war over the fate of an impending marriage. We never did learn what happened after the credits rolled? Why of course everyone lived happily ever after! 

The Treasure of Colossa

Let's suppose for a moment that the treasure of the cyclops isn't the only gold and silver left behind on that island. Most of that seems to have come from shipwrecks over the centuries according to the movie's wizard. Who knows what lays underground for some band of adventurers to uncover. What incredible artifacts await a band of fools in the dark of Colossa.  Well a good solid indicator of the type of artifacts is  the Lamp of the Genie. This is a major artifact with a very high level of sophistication that has gone into its  creation.
There might be other artifacts deep underground that the wizard never got because of their immortal guardians. The skeleton that fights Sinbad might be only the first of such things below ground. Golems, tribes of horrors, and worse might be just waiting for someone to stumble upon them.
The cizitens of Colossa must have been great engineers because they were able to tap the geothermal potential of the volcano of the island. I'd hazard to guess this was used extensively throughout the island and as part of a power source of both sorcery and science perhaps alchemy. 
So there could a window of centuries when the Island of Colossa is simply waiting for some band of shipwrecked fools to stumble into it.

 Happy adventuring and Merry Christmas 

No comments:

Post a Comment