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Film / The Golden Voyage of Sinbad

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"Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel."

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad is a 1974 fantasy film directed by Gordon Hessler and starring John Philip Law, Tom Baker, Ray Harryhausen's special effects and Caroline Munro. Miklos Rozsa (who scored The Thief of Bagdad in the same vein) composed the soundtrack. It is the second Sinbad the Sailor film on which Harryhausen worked after The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and has a different cast and crew.

Sinbad the Sailor searches for the lost continent of Lemuria with the help of his trusty crew along with the disfigured Grand Vizier of Marabia and the perpetually under-dressed ex-slavegirl Margiana. Along the way they will battle the evil sorcerer Prince Koura and encounter fantastic creatures such as the griffin and — in the film's most technically stunning moment — a six-armed statue of Kali brought to life through Koura's magic.

Harryhausen worked on a third and final Sinbad film, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger , which had a completely different cast and crew once again.

Not to be confused with the MST3K-featured The Magic Voyage of Sinbad (actually the Russian film Sadko).

This movie provides examples of:

  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The tribesmen of Lemuria all have green skin, though it's possibly paint.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Sinbad's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits are all conventionally gorgeous young men and women, except for the character whose disfigurement is part of the plot (and even he hides his face under a beautifully-designed metal mask except for one significant scene). Koura has a striking but not remotely pretty appearance, with Creepy Blue Eyes and a huge, hooked nose, and becomes visibly older and uglier (with cracked skin and red-rimmed eyes) from the effects of his magic overuse. His allies consist of sailors with more asymmetrical faces than Sinbad's crew, heavily painted tribespeople, and monsters.
  • Beard of Evil: Koura has a much larger beard than Sinbad.
  • Benevolent Boss: Believe it or not, Prince Koura. He never indulges in a Kick the Dog moment with his second-in-command, Achmed, and as the final confrontation with Sinbad approaches Koura actually sends him to safety rather than place his life at risk.
  • Birthmark of Destiny: Margiana's eye-shaped brand on the palm of her hand. It doesn't actually amount to much, plot-wise.
  • Bishounen Line: Koura starts off middle-aged, becomes increasingly elderly and twisted-looking as he starts throwing around more and more magic power, and then finally becomes younger looking than we've yet seen him for the final confrontation.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: Prince Koura in the Fountain of Destiny, which runs a sickening red after he is killed.
  • Blood Magic: The evil wizard Prince Koura uses his own blood to create a homunculus.
  • Call-Back: Like The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, this one ends with a new friend swinging through the rigging and asking to stay on as a permanent member of Sinbad's crew.
  • Cast from Lifespan: Prince Koura can use black magic, but at the price of aging every time he casts a spell. You have to wonder if he'd been a teenager before he started his sorcerous reign of terror...
  • Catchphrase: Sinbad's recurring piece of advice: "Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel." A somewhat more colourful version of the modern "Hope for the best, but plan for the worst."
  • Creepy Cute (In-Universe): The bat-homunculus. A tiny demon made from Koura's blood, Achmed is scared of it but Koura clearly finds it adorable, his eyes melting as he looks at it and clucking at it to lure it onto his arm like it was a pet.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Haroun starts off as an idle, womanizing drunkard and hashish-smoker whose father makes Sinbad hire him in an attempt to whip him into shape. Towards the end of the film, however, he saves Sinbad's life twice, once by shooting down Koura's homunculus when it attacks Sinbad whilst he's climbing a rope out of the Oracle's temple, then again when Sinbad is pinned down by the statue of Kali, and he tackles it over a ledge, shattering it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sinbad. For example, when Haroun's father says Allah will smile upon Sinbad for taking on lazy Haroun, Sinbad quips, "More likely He will laugh in my face."
  • Decapitation Presentation: Played with. Achmed raises the head of the Kali statue aloft for the green men of Lemuria to see, but he's not the one who destroyed it. Haroun did, and Achmed and Koura are both trying to rile the green men against Sinbad.
  • Dual Wielding: Kali, with six blades.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: At one of Haroun's goofs and the joke Sinbad and the Vizier make about Sinbad's Catchphrase.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Sinbad's crew lives in a world of Dull Surprise and Eye Takes. Koura, however, is a universe unto himself, thanks in part to being played by Tom Baker. Koura is marked by copious Chewing the Scenery, evil laughter, wailing, trembling, moaning magic words in an ecstatic sort of way and shouting people's names really loudly.
  • Evil Wears Black: There's a reason they call Koura the Black Prince.
  • The Evil Prince: Prince Koura, though what exactly he is prince of is never clear. He seems to have a castle of his own somewhere within riding distance of Marabia, though.
  • Facial Horror: Below his golden mask, the Vizier's face is horrifically scarred, stemming from Koura setting fire to it after the Sultan of Marabia died naming the Vizier his heir. His face is healed by the end of the film after Sinbad puts the crown of untold riches on his head.
  • Fanfare: For the Grand Vizier.
  • Flynning: All over the movie, particularly pronounced in the fight with Kali. The fight with Koura might be justified, as he's invisible at the time and the only visible part of him is his sword.
  • Free-Sample Plot Coupon: The Grand Vizier of Marabia gives Sinbad a quest to find the three golden tablets before the evil Koura does. Luckily Sinbad accidentally acquired the first tablet from Koura before meeting the Vizier, and uses it to locate the area where the other two tablets can be found.
  • Genre Throwback: To an earlier era of swashbuckling adventure movies, including Harryhausen's own The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, released back in the '50s, and the even earlier The Thief of Bagdad (1940), whose influence on this movie is very clear.
  • Give Me a Sword: Sinbad gives Koura a sword when challenging him to a duel at the temple of Lemuria. Instead, Koura gives his sword to Kali... and Kali magically grows five more swords for each of her hands.
  • The Good Chancellor: One of the few Arabian Nights movies with a good Grand Vizier instead of an evil one.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: The Grand Vizier (who, as mentioned above, is a good guy, unusual for these sorts of stories) had his entire face burned off thanks to the mischief of Prince Koura, and so now wears a golden mask. He takes it off to scare some hostile tribesmen away, and later regains his face when Sinbad crowns him Sultan.
  • The Grotesque: The Vizier again, under that golden mask. Unusual for this type of character, he gets a happy ending: his old face is restored and he becomes the next sultan!
  • Horned Humanoid: The Oracle has some truly impressive ram horns.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Sinbad and his crew have no chance against the statue of Kali. Not only is it surprisingly fast and skilled with its swords, but since the statue is made of stone, their swords are useless against it. They only win because Haroun manages to knock it off a ledge while it's busy fighting Sinbad, shattering it on the ground below.
  • Human Sacrifice: Mariana's birthmark signals that she is supposed to be one for the Cyclops Centaur.
  • Large Ham:
    • It's Tom Baker, what do you expect? This is especially true when he's controlling the figurehead and when he swordfights with Sinbad near the end. It's true from his very first scene:
    • Likewise, an uncredited (and unrecognizable) Robert Shaw absolutely devours the scenery as the Oracle of All Knowledge.
      ''"...and then the WORLD shall KNOW and YOU shall KNOW which way the fates have chose you shall GO!"
  • Living Statue: Famously, the statue of Kali, the most iconic scene in the whole movie. Less well known is the figurehead of Sinbad's ship that Koura animates remotely to steal the map for him.
  • Mad Oracle: The Oracle is certainly hard to talk to, though it doesn't even seem to be conventionally human in the first place.
  • MacGuffin Location: The Fountain of Destiny, where wishes are granted.
  • Masking the Deformity: The Grand Vizier of Marabia, named heir to the throne after the sultan died without a son, wears a solid golden mask that covers his entire head. Below it, his face is nightmarishly scarred, with hairless, waxy skin, thanks to Koura the Black Prince setting fire to it, just to prevent the Vizier from becoming an obstacle to the throne he wants for himself. Towards the climax of the film, the Vizier takes off his mask to reveal his face and scare away the green men who are threatening to kill Sinbad and his crew, and at the end of the film, once Sinbad puts the "crown of untold riches" gained from the Fountain of Destiny onto the Vizier's head, the mask melts away into thin air, revealing that the Vizier's face is now magically restored back to its full healthier glory, along with a full head of hair and a nice beard.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Margiana, played by Caroline Munro. Essentially her only role in the story is to look pretty in not very much clothing and her cleavage is oiled up to attract the eye. Even her significant birthmark turns out to just mean that she's supposed to be a sacrifice to the Centaur.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Kali fights with six arms and swords.
  • Navel-Deep Neckline: Played With in regards to Margiana's outfit. It's open in such a way that it leaves most of her torso exposed, from cleavage to midriff, with only a tiny string of cloth holding it together beneath her breasts.
  • Neutral Female: Margiana stands by idly during most fights. Sinbad's entire quest would probably be a lot easier if he hadn't brought her along. Ironically, Haroun — whom he only accepted as a companion because it would mean Margiana could come too, and initially views as The Load — ends up coming through on several occasions.
  • No-Sell: The figurehead shrugs off an axe being lodged in her chest and continues attacking Sinbad's crew.
  • Occult Blue Eyes: Koura has strangely-colored, unearthly blue eyes (courtesy of Tom Baker, whose eyes naturally looked like that) that receive a lot of camera and color-contrast attention whenever he uses his magic. Played up with copious Eyedscreen and some truly stunning Idiosyncratic Wipes where the scene transitions from a shot of his face around his eyes, leaving them staring disembodied over the emerging scene for a very unsettling effect.
  • Offered the Crown: After he kills Koura, Sinbad sees the third and final treasure that emerges from the Fountain of Destiny, a golden crown. Despite seeing himself reflected with the crown on his head and royal robes on his body, Sinbad refuses the crown and gives it to the Vizier instead. As he tells Margiana later, "I value freedom. A king is never truly free. Why, he is even told who he must marry."
  • Oh, Crap!: Haroun has this reaction when, after drunkenly flirting with the ship's figurehead, he sees it come to life and look at him.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: It's about 50/50 whether Tom Baker can be bothered to affect Koura's vague Arabic accent in a scene.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: The Cyclops-centaur.
  • Our Gryphons Are Different: It lives underground and is apparently the manifestation of the forces of good
  • Our Homunculi Are Different: Koura creates two of them. These flying imps are an extension of their creator's senses of sound and sight.
  • Pet the Dog: As evil as Koura is, he has a surprisingly close relationship with his minion, Achmed. For one, he never grows angry with Achmed when the latter expresses concern about the negative effects Koura's magic has upon him. Second, Koura takes care to send Achmed back to their ship near the climax, so he won't be in danger if Koura is defeated by Sinbad.
  • Plunder: The Crown of Many Riches.
  • Power Degeneration: See Cast from Lifespan. Koura gets increasingly frail as he keeps casting spells.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Miklos Rosza re-used part of his score from Ben-Hur (1959). Ironically, on that film, he re-used part of his score for Quo Vadis.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The Oracle speaks in this manner.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Kali, though strictly speaking it's a statue of her instead of Kali herself. Lemuria too, if mistaking a failed biogeographic hypothesis from 1864 for an "ancient myth" counts.
  • Saved by the Phlebotinum: Prince Koura's youth is restored by one of the fountains.
  • Slave Liberation: Sinbad values freedom and doesn't like slavery, so he frees Margiana as soon as she's brought to his ship. Later, he does this for himself by refusing the Crown of Many Riches. As he puts it, "A king is never truly free."
  • Step into the Blinding Fight: At the end Sinbad must fight Koura while Koura is invisible after being granted a "shield of darkness".
  • The Stoner: Haroun's father is tired of him lying around all day smoking hashish, so he pays Sinbad gold and a slave girl to take the boy away.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Haroun, who's initially a lazy, good-for-nothing stoner, actually learns to stand on his own two feet and is one of the few members of Sinbad's crew to fight the statue of Kali and live.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: The second half of the movie is just Koura overdoing the magic and variously attacking Sinbad's crew with possessed statues, magic exploding temples, green-skinned savages and so on, hoovering up the Plot Coupons as he goes. The only thing Sinbad's crew is really capable of is fighting off whatever he throws at them and chasing after him.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • What happened to Koura's second-in-command and the ship he came on? Koura sends the sailors who row him to Lemuria and later his second back to the ship, and that's the last we hear of it.
    • Also, what exactly happened to Omar, the sailor in Sinbad's crew with a shaved head? He just disappears halfway through the battle with the centaur. We can see his legs sticking out from behind a rock but what happened to him? How did he die?
    • What happened to the other unnamed men in Sinbad's island expedition? They apparently disappeared right after the battle with Kali. One of them did get injured in the battle, but it was uncertain whether or not it was fatal. As for the others, were they captured like their comrades by the Lemurians but failed to escape? If so, what was their fate?
  • You Didn't Ask: Haroun is glad to finally be on land. When Sinbad asks him "Even dangerous land?" he panics, asking why Sinbad didn't tell him this was going to be dangerous. Sinbad responds with this trope.