Airing on TCM November 26 at 12:45 PM EST
The term “Dynamation” was first coined for “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad” as a way of referring to Ray Harryhausen’s special method of stop-motion animation. The film is live action, and tells the story of Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews), who must travel amongst an island of monsters to save Princess Parisa (Kathryn Grant), who was shrunken by an evil wizard. But all of the monsters in the film were of Harryhausen’s creation, models brought to life through stop-motion animation.
In some instances, monsters fought other monsters, like the Cyclops battle with a dragon. But in other scenes—and this is what makes this movie and Harryhausen’s body of work in generally especially fascinating—the models interact with the live-action actors. Harryhausen accomplished this by splitting pre-filmed live-action footage, splitting the background and foreground onto two different screens, and filming the models in between them, making it look as if the creatures were actually filmed in that landscape. The effect is mesmerizing, especially in the famous sword fight sequence between Sinbad and a skeleton. That scene proved so popular with audiences, it was expanded upon in “Jason and the Argonauts”, for which Harryhausen animated an entire skeleton army for Jason to fight.
“The 7th Voyage of Sinbad” is a fantastic adventure film. The story is aided by great direction, animation, and an epic score by Bernard Herrmann. It also spawned two more Sinbad movies, and a series of similar films based on Greek stories, including the aforementioned “Jason and the Argonauts”—which is possibly an even more impressive example of Harryhausen’s work—and “Mysterious Island”.
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