Those colours are presented well on screen with no hint of bleed or smearing and all are well delineated within their respective borders. The blacks are good but have been better but the whites are excellent and only now and again show some bloom into their surrounding elements. Encoding is acceptable with no blocking on show and any noise is negated by the excessive grain prevalent throughout. There is enhancement to some degree but like any noise being camouflaged with grain so any enhancement is covered by the many matte lines as creatures, people and buildings are set against background effects shots.
The picture is showing its age somewhat with constant brightness fluctuations and an excessive amount of grain, more so than I have previously seen on any BluRay release. The fluctuations become a little distracting and the grain, which is not consistent, is initially a little distracting but eventually becomes just another part of the movie and somewhat disregarded. Texture, facial and surrounding detail is excellent for a film of this age. The small grapes which Princess Parisa kicks with her tiny feet, Sinbad's cabin, the jewels on the Princess' small abode, the excellent detailed art of Harryhausen's creatures are all better rendered than before on any mediium and this certainly bodes well for any future releases of his.
Herrman's score flows beautifully from the fronts providing a wide stage which has incredible depth. Individual instruments are easily identified and enjoyed. I have sat back and just listened to his score here and it is wonderfully reproduced in the TrueHD mix. Effect shots have better definition with this track as well, the many battles, the weather on-board ship, the busy streets of Baghdad all come across better with more depth and definition. There's good panning at the fronts as needed with some good echo effects as Sinbad searches for his lost Princess, the staging of the skeleton/Sinbad sword fight and the dance at the Sultan's palace.
For an original mono track there's never any real need for those surrounds to kick in with vengeance and although they are used now and again to add some ambiance it's never excessive and never gets in the way of what's going on up front. Much can be said for LFE as well, which whilst being used to some degree, and in the main by the score itself, never goes too low. Not a critiscm though, just a a product of its age. That score by Herrmann though is what stands this track out from others from the same era.
- Commentary with Ray Harryhausen, Phil Tippett, Randall William Cook, Steven Smith and Arnold Kunert.
They discuss the film and its two main protagonists, Bernard Hermann and his score and Harryhausen's animations, Jason mentioned obviously. The use se of stock footage is briefly discussed, what the budget was and casting. Most of this commentary is like a question and answer session between Harryhausen and the rest.
- Remembering the 7th Voyage of Sinbad - 0:23:31
Harryhausen discussing why he wanted to do this feature, the initial sketches he drew and then took to the studios only to have most of them turn him down. The writing which went into the pre-production, the casting, the actors who finally took the parts. Much like a magician Harryhausen was secretive about the work he was producing, adding to the excitement of what you were about to see on screen. He introduces the skeleton and obviously loves working with them.
- The Harryhausen Legacy - 0:25:32
A number of people including John Landis, Rick Baker and Phil Tippett offer their opinions on Harryhausen and his influence on the visual effects in the cinema. They are all obviously impressed. Discussing this feature in particular and how it and Harryhausen's other works influenced them.
- The Music of Bernard Herrman - 0:26:52
Steve Smith, music historian, goes solo on this short. Bernard Herrmann has written some of the most iconic, memorable film scores and this short discusses some of that body of work. His early radio work is mentioned where he learned his work as a composer right through to his fantasy collaborations with Harryhausen of course The Day the Earth Stood Still is mentioned. Other scores you will remember are Psycho and North by Northwest with Hitchcock of course. He's acknowledged as being a pioneer in implementing new musical instruments and techniques producing often haunting and always memorable scores.
- Photo Gallery - 0:09:34
No way of navigating through these photos yourself, other than pause, fast forward and reverse, they just appear as a reel. A simple collection of stills from the film.
- ”Sinbad May Have Been Bad, But He's Been Good To Me.” - 0:03:07
This is the audio recording which accompanied the film in its cinema release meant for playing in the lobbies or presented as freebies or promotional prizes. It's a swinging track set to some promotional stills.
- A Look Behind the Voyage. - 0:11:47
A short EPK from 1995 which has brief interviews with Charles Schneer, Harryhausen and Kerwin Mathews discussing their involvement in this film. Obviously most of the time Harryhausen is mentioned; reiterating how much the films he worked on were ultimately his not really the director's. Harryhausen himself discusses his own influences, specifically King Kong.
- This is DynaMation. - 0:03:35
A trailer for the film, but essentially a short ad for the work of Ray Harryhausen and his DynaMation technique. There's an excellent shot showing the skeleton fight sequence with Italian Olympic fencing coach Enzo Musumeci Greco standing in for the skeleton so that Kerwin Mathews could act out the scene.
- Ray Harryhausen Interviewed by John Landis. - 0:11:52
John and Ray in a small studio having a comfortable chat. Landis vocalises that these films are Ray's work more so than the director's. Predominantly Jason and the Argonauts is discussed and the techniques Ray used on that film. The infamous skeleton model is shown, which was constructed by his father and was then finalised by Ray himself, essentially putting the bones on the wire frame supplied to him.
An excellent set of extras with superb input from Harryhausen himself not only in the additional featurettes but also the supplied commentary. All of this is a must watch for any Harryhausen fan there's just so much detail and appreciation for his work throughout the years contained here. As a superb bonus we also get a good 30 minute discussion on Bernard Herrman without whom this feature would just not have been the same.
This is a good enough watch, and re-watch really, on those lazy Sunday afternoons and takes me back somewhat to when I looked forward to Sunday afternoons to catch a film from a bygone year. Those of us of an age where we grew up on Harryhausen will love this, those more familiar with the almost perfect rendering of CGI will perhaps not be similarly pleased. But then if they took the time to look at the animation and craftsmanship which Harryhausen put into all of his works then they might just see something better that those sterile CGI equivalents.
Harryhausen here lays the work for some of his better known and liked films, equally Herrman simply constantly builds on his previous works, introducing new themes for individual characters and at time borrowing earlier themes from earlier works. The two are auteurs of the finest order, dedicated to their craft, they add weight to any production they put their hand to.
The film is old and somewhat showing its age but the transfer is still good from that period and the audio just pips the video to the post. Excellent supplementary material pads the disc out well, and most include conversations with or about Harryhausen. It is to my eternal shame that some years ago whilst living in Stirling he gave a talk in a small hotel in a small village just two miles from me and I never found out about it until two days after the event. Here though I get to catch up with some of his ideas.
A Golden Oldie and a great disc to have and add to your collection.
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