THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1973)
I've mentioned it a few times in my articles for Neon Splatter. I grew up on movies primarily from before the 1960s because my grandparents had a TV with cable and even a VCR. If I wanted to watch movies early in my childhood, I was going to be watching from what they had.
I watched A LOT of old Hollywood adventure movies. I've said it before. Errol Flynn in CAPTAIN BLOOD (1935) was my first Captain. He sang the siren songs of my desire for adventure and travel.
But Captain Sinbad is THE Captain. Even my beloved Captain America has to take a seat to him. I loved all the Sinbad movies. Because I love all Ray Harryhausen movies. And, while Errol Flynn as Captain Blood remains in my heart as important an iconic adventurer as Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones, Captain Sinbad was formative in my developing my imagination, my confidence, and gave me the first memories I can remember of starting to question how "exotic" lands and foreign people were portrayed. A thing that became my life's passion.
Of the Sinbad movies, none shine brighter to me than THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD.
You might have followed along when I was watching it and commenting, but it's worth saying again. I want to be the meat in a Caroline Munro & John Phillip Law sandwich, but also, the last third of Golden Voyage is wall to wall thrilling and exciting action plus top tier creature feature. It is some of the finest filmmaking still to date.
It's not only the effects. It's the set up, the music, the spirit that carries throughout the film. That movie redone in CGI would not have the same impact or appeal. The stop motion feels tactile even through a screen. I like that the way otherworldly creatures and supernatural effects do not cleanly fit into our reality. They shouldn't. The point is that it is all unnatural and comes from a mysterious magic. The world that exists in Sinbad and other adventure films are still based in our own reality. To me that's an important point.
I would argue that for some films, especially with what the goals are in modern Star Wars/Marvel-esque films, computer based visual effects have become important because of it's usefulness in universe building. It makes it easier to create universes on a bigger scale. And that's all very nice.
But partially because of nostalgia, and partially because I have fallen out of love with those movie universes, I find myself leaning back into magical movies that feel more "real" to me, a fantasy that can exist in my reality, if that makes sense.
What's more is that in times of personal turmoil, I retreat into safe memories and spaces that are mine alone and that haven't been tainted by the influence of others.
When I watch THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD, it was just me on the floor in the glow of TV light living in my own little world. And as I get older, while other people turn their focus to memories shared with others, I deeply embrace the power of my aloneness.
Don't misunderstand, I love those shared memories too. And someday I want more. But I'm tired of the ones I have hurting me. So my safe space is Captain Sinbad and me. My safe space is going to school with the Sweathogs, and watching Dick Van Dyke battle an ottoman.
My safe space is movies and TV that I watched alone. My safe space is dreaming in a way that no one can take from me.
I wanted to be Captain Sinbad growing up. I wanted to be independent, curious, courageous, rooted in goodness, and free.
Thirty years later, I want those things even more.
Rewatching the Ray Harryhausen catalog is a way to celebrate that my childhood wasn't entirely pain. Watching movies I loved as a kid is a way for me to escape, but it is also a way for me to honor the resilience, and hope I had as a child. These movies are the way back to remembering just how strong and hopeful I really am.
THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD is special, because it's one of my favorites of my favorites. It convinced me that magic was real and monsters could be slayed. It convinced me that if you do the right thing, you can give your friend back his peace, and get the girl.
I still want to believe those things.
When I find I don't, I watch this movie again to remind me. And, for that one hour and forty four minutes, life is perfect and magical.
I love you, THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD. Thank you for saving me 30 years and saving me today.