Home > Reviews > THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD – Bernard Herrmann



Original Review by Craig Lysy

In the 1950s, a collaboration between producer Charles Schneer and special animation effects artist Ray Harryhausen resulted in a trio of very successful science fiction films; It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955), Earth vs. The Flying Saucers (1956) and 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957). They decided that they wanted to explore a new genre, which had always fascinated Harryhausen – mythological fantasies. He had a story already envisioned for Sinbad the Sailor and Schneer decided to use his production company Morningside Productions partnering with Columbia Pictures to finance and distribute the film. Harryhausen would again create and manage the Dynamation special effects. Nathan Juran was tasked with directing, and he cast two young stars for the principle roles; studio contract player Kerwin Matthews as Sinbad, and Kathryn Grant as Princess Parisa. Joining them would be Richard Eyre as the Genie, Torin Thatcher as Sokurah, Alec Mango as the Caliph of Bagdad, and Harold Kasket as the Sultan. It would take Harryhausen eleven months to complete the filming of all the widescreen stop-motion animation scenes, which included the use of a flamethrower to simulate the dragon’s fiery breath. His iconic scene where Sinbad fights a skeleton continues to awe audiences to this day.

The story is set during the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid (786 – 809 C.E.). The tale involves the transport of the Princess Parisa of Chandra to Bagdad to be wed to the Sultan’s son Sinbad to secure the peace between their two kingdoms. These plans are sabotaged by the magician Sokurah who shrinks the Princess to coerce Sinbad in retrieving the magic lamp he lost to a cyclops on the isle of Colassa. Sinbad and his crew journey to the fabled island and wage battles with several mythical beasts as they seek to retrieve the magic lamp. Sinbad succeeds in securing the lamp and Parisa recruits its genie Barani to assist them by promising him his freedom. Sinbad journeys to Sokurah and promises to give him the lamp after he restores Parisa, which Sokurah does. But Sinbad and refuses to turn over the lamp until they are safely back at their ship, which elicits his wrath. They escape with Barani’s aid only to be hunted down by Sokurah’s dragon. In the final battle Sinbad slays the beast who, in the act of dying, falls and crushes Sokurah. We end happily ever after with Barani filling Sinbad’s cabin with treasure as a wedding gift for him and Parisa. The film was a commercial success, earning $3.2 million, more than three times its production cost of $650,000. Although it received widespread critical acclaim it was nevertheless bypassed by the Academy for award consideration. The film would spawn two sequels, with the trilogy remaining popular to this day.

Ray Harryhausen originally wanted Miklós Rózsa or Max Steiner to score this film, but was persuaded by Schneer to hire Bernard Herrmann. As a teenager Schneer often listened to CBS’s “Columbia Workshop”, which Herrmann conducted. He resolved that one day he would collaborate with him when making a film. It took twenty years to realize this ambition, and both men were so pleased with the collaboration that they hired Herrmann for three more films; The Three Worlds of Gulliver (1960), Mysterious Island (1961), and Jason and the Argonauts (1963). Herrmann was tasked with creating a soundscape full of the exotic auras of Arabia, a love theme for Sinbad and Parisa, as well as the diabolical menace of the evil sorcerer Sokurah. He also understood that a myriad of amazing mythical beasts would challenge Sinbad, each of which required a unique musical signature. He set forth with a passion and created one of the greatest and unique musical tapestries in cinematic history. He relates;

“I worked with a conventional sized orchestra, augmented by a large percussion section. The music I composed had to reflect the a purity and simplicity that could be easily assimilated to the nature of the fantasy being viewed. By characterizing the various creatures with unusual instrument combinations . . . and by composing motifs for all the major characters and actions, I feel I was able to envelop the entire movie in a shroud of mystical innocence.”

For his soundscape, Herrmann provided a multiplicity of themes. The Main Theme offers a classic ABABA construct with the A Phrase offering a three-note fortissimo declaration embellished with an exotic six-note Arabiesque figure, replete with contrapuntal trombones, and each of its five statements descending in register. The B Phrase unfolds sumptuously atop woodwinds delicato and tremolo strings draped with harp adornment into a stirring romance tinged with sadness, each of its five repeating statements also descending in register. This music bathes us in exotic Arabic auras, speaks of adventure and romance, and perfectly establishes the tone of the film. Parisa’s Theme serves as both her identity, but also as the score’s Love Theme. The sumptuous string born theme, which harkens back to Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Sheherazade”, is languorous, full of yearning, and flows with effortless ease. Yet we discern in the notes a subtle sadness, which speak to the trials that await them as they seek to realize their marriage. The primal Cyclops Theme resounds atop horns bellicoso, buttressed by ferocious clashing chords by French horns, trombone and tuba, and propelled by thunderous timpani, shattering cymbals and bells.” In a masterstroke Herrmann musical conception achieves a monstrous synergy with Harryhausen’s creation. The Roc Theme offers a repeating seven-note phrase for horns with a piccolo counter, which ascends and descends like the flapping of the giant bird’s wings. It provides a surprising amount of kinetic energy and empowers the fierce winds generated by the Roc’s flapping wings. The Skeleton Theme reveals genius in conception and Herrmann’s mastery of his craft. He musically speaks to the bones of a skeleton using chattering xylophones, slap sticks, castanets, and dire low register horns offset by trumpets. The Dragon Theme offers a monstrous construct empowered by primal thundering timpani, menacing low register woodwinds, blasts of dire horns, and serpentine hissing cymbals. Most interesting is Herrmann’s recurring use non-melodic, repetitious motifs to sow unease, stoke tension and evoke mystery, techniques eschewed by Golden Age classicist composers, but now widely embraced by modern age composers. So, let us begin our journey. . .

As the Columbia studio logo displays the “Overture”, a magnificent score highlight, opens grandly with a classic ABABA construct, one of the finest in Herrmann’s canon. The A Phrase offers three-note fortissimo declarations embellished with an exotic six-note Arabesque figure. A colorful mural displays several scenes from Sinbad’s epic adventure as the roll of the opening credits unfold. We flow sumptuously atop woodwinds delicato and tremolo strings draped with harp adornment into the stirring B Phrase, a romance tinged with sadness, and with each of its five repeating statements also descending in register. The music, which bathes us in exotic Arabic auras, speaks of adventure and romance, perfectly establishing the tone of the film. The concluding A Phrase crowns the overture and ends with a magnificent flourish! “The Fog” offers a tension cue, which reveals Sinbad at the helm navigating his ship through dense fog. He orders a depth sounding, which reveals 4 fathoms. This raises anxiety among the crew, and Herrmann speaks to this by sowing unease using a repeating eerie six-note misterioso, which ebbs and flows like the waves of the sea. It dissipates into a diminuendo of uncertainty as Sinbad sights land and orders the anchor deployed. In “The Princess”, Sinbad descends to the main cabin to advise the Princess of their arrival. As he gives her the news, they embrace, kiss, and speak of their upcoming wedding. Herrmann introduces his languorous Love Theme to support our two lovers the tender moment.

“The Stone Gate” reveals the crew taking a small boat to the island to obtain provisions so they may complete the voyage. A repeating misterioso of unease carries their progress and arrival. They head inland and at 0:37 portentous horns gravi sound as the men discover massive clove tracks in the sand. Dark low register woodwinds join in a grim repeating pattern, which fills us with unease as Sinbad and his men walk inland. At 1:08 a new repeating pattern emerges to express another misterioso as they come upon ancient ruins with a large cave entrance. The high register twinkle offset by grave low register counters unsettles us as the men’s curiosity get the better of them and they advance to explore its interior. “The Cyclops” introduces the score’s first action cue, which showcases Herrmann’s astounding Cyclops Theme. Harsh horns barbaro propel Sokurah who is fleeing the cave pursued by the massive cyclops. The primal Cyclops Theme resounds atop horns bellicoso, buttressed by ferocious French horns, trombone and tuba, and propelled by thunderous timpani, shattering cymbals and bells as the men try to repel the beast while fleeing to their boat. At 0:56 Sokurah secludes himself and calls forth the genie of the magic lamp. A twinkling effervescence supports the genie’s emergence from the lamp. He orders the genie to build an impenetrable barrier between the cyclops and the men, so that they might escape. The genie creates the translucent barrier and at 1:29 monstrous horns barbaro resound repeatedly with fury as the cyclops futilely batters the barrier as the men escape. A diminuendo supports dialogue as Sokurah reveals the power and limitations of the lamp. At 1:57 the Cyclops Theme resounds anew with monstrous fury as it picks up a large boulder and flings it over the barrier at the boat. It misses, but the massive upsurge of water capsizes the boat, causing Sokurah to lose the lamp, carried to the bottom by a descent motif. The barrier dissipates and cyclops tries to pursue empowered by deafening declarations of his theme, but he stops as he cannot swim. At 2:19 he sees and retrieve the glistening golden lamp from the waters supported by fierce horn victorious declarations of his theme. At 2:39 we conclude with futility as Sokurah to no avail, begs Sinbad to retrieve his lamp. A slow diminuendo upon the Cyclops Theme closes the scene as the ship sails away from the island.

“The Trumpets” offers exotic fanfare declarations, which support the display of on-screen script “Bagdad”, and visuals of the city. “Bagdad” offers a score highlight, which showcases Herrmann’s capacity to infuse his soundscape with local exotic auras. We see Sinbad and Parisa being carried in a powder blue litter to the palace supported by danza esotica replete with bubbling woodwinds, trilling woodwinds and castanets. At 0:27 we flow into a wondrous extended rendering of the Love Theme as Sinbad confesses his adoration and love for Parisa. The woodwind ambiance of the opening litter transport is woven into the theme and achieves a beautiful confluence. At 1:16 woodwinds move to the forefront carrying the melody as the Caliph greats Parisa and welcome her to his palace. At 1:47 lush violins romantico take up the melodic line and our lovers share time together at a garden pool, where Parisa relates her happiness with the beauty of Bagdad. As she discusses the cyclops and Sokurah a subtle yet palpable sadness creeps into the notes as she discloses her fear of him. The melodic flow is severed by a gong strike in the film, which supports the arrival of Sokurah. The Caliph tasks him to put on a magic display for tonight’s feast, to which he agrees. The Caliph however declines Sokurah’s request for Sinbad and his ship to retrieve his lamp on the isle of Colassa. “Sultans Feast” reveals the lavish banquet thrown on behalf of Parisa betrothal to Sinbad and her father the Sultan of Chandra. The Main Theme establishes the ambiance, but a gong strike at 0:11 interrupts and supports the arrival of the Sultan and his daughter. The Main Theme returns for a wonderful exposition, but its articulation is truncated by grim horns as Sokurah enters with a large clay vase and covered woven basket.

“The Vase” reveals Parisa’s handmaiden being placed in the vase and then Sokurah opening the basket and retrieving a serpent, which he tosses into the vase, along with a magic potion. Howling trombones, tremolo strings and woodwinds agitato create a horrific ambiance, which supports a grotesque transformation. In “Cobra Dance” Sokurah smashes the vase open with an axe to reveal the handmaiden, who has been transformed into a horrific four-armed beast with a serpent’s scale coloring and tail. Herrmann supports her exotic dance with a danza grotessca driven by exotic woodwinds animato replete with horrific dissonant horns declarations. As the beast’s tail encircles the handmaiden’s throat and begins to strangle her, the music mutates into ugly dissonance until Sokurah uses a potion to restore the handmaiden to human form. “The Prophesy” reveals the Caliph congratulating Sokurah, who again asks for a ship to take him back to Colassa. The Caliph again declines, to which Sokurah offers a greater demonstration of his powers. The Caliph and Sultan ask him to prophesize what is to become of their two kingdoms, to which Sokurah agrees. He casts magic power into the embers, which erupt in vapors that he inhales. Herrmann creates an ambiance of unease with tremolo strings, a bass pizzicato and plaintive woodwinds as a pall of palpable sadness descends. Sokurah portends war between Bagdad and Chandra and the revelation that Sinbad and Parisa will never marry. At 1:03 timpani and horns commence a crescendo of anger as we see fury rise in Sinbad’s eyes. He leaps forward and cast Sokurah to the ground. We close darkly with the Sultan banishing Sokurah from Bagdad.

“The Pool” opens with menacing horns as Sokurah angrily departs the Sultan’s presence. At 0:19 we see Sinbad and Parisa alone together at night in the garden where the anticipate the joy of their wedding tomorrow. A solo flute delicato emotes the Love Theme to support their happiness as they embrace and kiss. “Night Magic” reveals Parisa asleep supported by woodwinds gentile, which create a restful nocturnal ambiance. At 0:19 a dark bassoon and kindred woodwinds support Sokurah’s stealth arrival in her bed chamber. The music intensifies as he causes a green vapor to erupt from her bedside candle, which she inhales. At 0:47 tremelo violins commence a stepped ascent in register while woodwinds doloroso counter with a stepped descent in register as we see Parisa shrinking on screen. We close darkly as she disappears from view. Herrmann’s conception and execution of this transformation is masterful. In the film a dire rendering of the Bagdad Fanfare supports the handmaiden bringing bad news to Sinbad, the Caliph and the Sultan. “Tiny Princess” reveals Sinbad entering Parisa’s bed chamber and discovering that she has been miniaturized. Herrmann supports both Sinbad’s and her father’s grief with a plaintive rendering of the Love Theme so full of heartache. In the film we close with a dire rendering of the Bagdad Fanfare as the Sultan declares that he will return to destroy Bagdad for what has been done to his daughter. “Sokurah’s Offer” Sokurah offers the Sultan and Sinbad to reverse the curse with a potion if they retrieve an egg shell from a giant Roc on the Isle of Colassa. This will have to be done at his castle, so the princess must accompany them. Herrmann supports the conversation by bathing us in ambient Arabic auras, which play under the dialogue. This music is not found on the album.

Sinbad recruit’s addition crew from death’s row at the Caliph’s prison and sets sail for Colassa. “The Ship” reveals Sinbad sailing to Colassa as the crew struggles to stow the massive crossbow they will use against the cyclops. Herrmann supports the scene with ever shifting three-note nautical fanfares, which never coalesce into a cogent statement. In “Sinbad and the Princess” Sinbad sees to Parisa’s comfort in his cabin with support of a tender, yet sad rendering of the Love Theme. The music for this scene is not found on the album. “The Fight” offers a percussive maelstrom. It reveals a mutiny by the convicts, which Herrmann supports with a cacophonous torrent of ever shifting thundering drums, cymbal clashes, and wood block percussion. Sinbad almost wins the day, but is forced to surrender to save Sokurah’s life. They are imprisoned in the ship’s hold, but regain control of the ship after sirens drive the mutineer’s mad. “The Return” is an ambient tension cue. It reveals Sinbad’s return to Colassa and their preparations to arm the crossbow. Herrmann sow’s anxiety with tremolo strings and woodwinds as the men prepare to fight the cyclops. In “The Skull” Sinbad and Sokurah lead separate parties as they seek to cross the valley of the cyclops to reach the nesting peaks of the Great Roc’s. Sinbad’s party comes to a cyclops encampment that contains wood cages filled with skeletal remains. Once again Herrmann sow’s unease with textural writing using ever shifting dark woodwinds, grim horns and eerie strings.

“The Cave” reveals the men discovering the treasure cave of the cyclops and becoming seduced by the riches. A woodwind ostinato with bassoon counter creates tension as Sinbad searches for his missing men. The tension intensifies with a transfer of the ostinato to horns, yet subsides and dissipates as Sinbad discovers the men in the treasure cave. In “The Capture” a fight ensues when Sinbad demands that they forget the treasure for now and continue the mission. The music enters as the cyclops lifts up the treasury’s lid, the alarm declared by horns barbaro and anvil strikes. Horns of doom resound as the men are captured and placed in a wooden cage. “The Escape” reveals Sinbad releasing Parisa so she can unlatch the cage. Ever shifting high register tremolo strings emote the Love Theme as she struggles to unlatch the bolt. As Sokurah searches the treasury for the lamp, he alerts the cyclops who moves in to capture him. Parisa manages to free the latch and the men escape while the cyclops is distracted. The music for this scene is not found on the album. “The Fight With The Cyclops” offers a dynamic action cue driven by a powerful ostinato for horns and strings, which propels the battle. At 0:22 thunderous timpani usher in the Cyclops Theme as the men battle the beast. We build on a monstrous crescendo, which subsides in pain at 1:09 as Sinbad torches the cyclops’ eye. “Cyclops Death” sustains the epic power of the previous cue as Sinbad gains the upper hand while the cyclops blindly flails and grasps. Herrmann propels the enraged beast with the Cyclops Theme, which resounds on blaring horns, thunderous timpani and deafening anvil strikes. Sinbad astutely pokes and taunts the blind beast ever closer to the cliff edge until he steps off at 1:13 and falls to his doom.

“The Cliffs” reveals Sinbad, Sokurah and the men climbing a torturous path on a cliff face to reach the nesting place of the giant Roc. Herrmann scores the climb texturally, creating tension with high register ambient strings with counters by low register woodwinds. An orchestral growl and descent at 0:38 support a man falling to his death. It is the music more than the visuals, which evoke feeling of peril. In “The Egg” the men come upon an enormous Roc egg with sounds of life within. Sokurah counsels that they climb higher to find eggshell from a Roc, which has already hatched. The two convicts stay behind and decide to crack open the egg as they are starving. Music enters as they begin to crack open the egg. Herrmann supports their efforts with a repeating shimmering six-note descent phrase of bells and cyclic horns. At 0:34 the repeating phrase shifts to a more energetic ascent motif as the large Roc chickling emerges. “The Request” reveals Sinbad giving Sokurah an eggshell fragment only to be told that other ingredients found in his castle below are needed to restore the princess. Repeating grim six-note phrases support the revelation that they must revisit the realm of the cyclopes. At 0:20 shimmering violins emote a plaintive Love Theme as Sinbad informs Parisa that she must wait a little longer to be restored. He says he does not trust Sokurah and his only hold on him is possession of the magic lamp, which he does not know how to use. Parisa decides to journey into the lamp to converse with the genie in hopes of learning its secrets.

As Parisa enters the lamp in “The Genies Home” she is bathed in a flowing mist. Herrmann creates an other-worldly ambiance with a repeating six-note phrase of metallic shimmering by chimes and bells with harp adornment, countered softly by a solo bassoon. She meets the genie Barani, who to her surprise is a boy. He is unhappy and longs for his freedom. At 1:53 dark woodwinds emerge as he reveals an inscription that explains how he can be freed; “When the big that is small, shall again become tall, into the fiery rock, to rise you must fall”. She makes a bargain that she will work for his freedom if he helps them. He trusts her and reveals the words which are used to summon him. The ethereal six-note motif returns and supports their pact as Parisa departs. The cue ends here, but in the film the Love Theme supports Parisa’s revelation to Sinbad of the secret of the lamp. “The Fight With The Roc” offers another score highlight, which reveals the return of the mother Roc. She attacks the men, killing two of them. Sinbad attempts to summon the genie, but the lamp is knocked from his hands. Harufa and Sokurah struggle for the lamp, but Sokurah prevails and impales Harufa with a spear. Herrmann supports the battle with a full rendering of the Roc Theme, which offers a repeating seven-note phrase for horns with a piccolo counter, which ascends and descends like the flapping of the giant bird’s wings. The theme becomes ferocious at 0:59 as Sinbad fights for his life. As he grabs the lamp at 1:30 the theme swells and supports the Roc grasping Sinbad with his talons and carrying him aloft to drop him in an empty nest.

In “The Nest” grim horns with a bassoon counter sound as Sokurah reaches down and grabs Parisa. At 0:16 a grim dirge like descent motif supports Sinbad awakening in the nest and climbing down. He discovers the corpse of Harufa and repeatedly cries out supported by horns for Parisa, and then, Sokurah. The cue ends here, but in the film, he summons the genie who ascends from the lamp in a shimmering effervescence. He queries him as to the location of Sokurah and Parisa, and Barani informs him that she is held hostage in his underground castle. Sinbad departs and his progress is supported by the grim music, which opened the cue. Dark and foreboding low register woodwinds and horns open “The Dragon”, which reveals Sinbad walking through a large cave. Suddenly at 1:03 thundering timpani announce the monstrous Dragon Theme as Sinbad ducks, nearly incinerated by a fiery blast from the dragon. The beast is chained and Barani counsels Sinbad to use the gear wheel to tighten the chain so he may pass safely, which he does. Herrmann supports the encounter with an extended rendering of the Dragon Theme empowered by thundering timpani, menacing low woodwinds, blasts of dire horns and hissing serpentine cymbals. “Sokurah and Parisa” reveals Sinbad approaching the castle entrance carried by repeating four-note phrases by high tremolo strings with a low woodwind counter. As Sokurah reveals Sinbad to Parisa in a vaporous orb, a twinkling metallic effervescence supports the revelation. The four-note motif returns to carry Sinbad’s progress to the massive doors, shifting from strings, to horns, to low woodwinds. Sokurah command Parisa to tell Sinbad to do as he asks. A beleaguered rendering of the Love Theme by tremolo violins reunite our two lovers. Sokurah a sword point is ordered to produce the potion and the Love Theme carries him to it. The music for this scene is not found on the album.

In “Transformation” Herrmann sow’s tension with a repeating four-note phrase, ever shifting between woodwinds and horns over tremolo strings. At 0:26 a grim ostinato raises tension and supports the creation of the potion, slowly intensifying as the potion is completed with the addition of the Roc eggshell. As he places Parisa and the potion in a chamber and closes the lid, the four-note phrasing returns and crescendos, cresting at 1:14 with trilling woodwinds and dire horn declarations as fire and smoke erupts from the chamber. At 1:32 and string descent supports the lid being opened, and ushering the Love Theme as we see Parisa restored and embraced by Sinbad. Sinbad mistrusts Sokurah and refuses to turn over the lamp until they are safely aboard the ship. In “The Skeleton”, as they depart, Sokurah summons a skeletal swordsman that bars their way. Horrific horn blasts support the skeleton’s arrival. Dire low register woodwinds and horns carry the skeleton to Sokurah, who orders it to kill Sinbad. “The Duel With The Skeleton” offers a score highlight as Sinbad is forced to fight for his life. Herrmann propels the fight with the Skeleton Theme using kinetic xylophones, slap sticks, castanets, and dire syncopated horns. The fight is brutal, but Sinbad prevails at 1:34 as he cast the creature off a ledge and it shatters as it impacts the rocks below. In “The Sword” timpani barbaro roll as Sokurah grabs Parisa and tries to force her into the castle. Muted horns sound as Sinbad throws his sword, which pins Sokurah to the door. While Sinbad runs to Parisa’s aid, Sokurah tears his robes, enters the castle and bars the door. As Sinbad recovers Parisa, they flee, with timpani and muted horns carrying their progress.

“Sokorah Intervenes” reveals his return to his lab, where he gazes in his crystal ball and sees them approaching a bridge over a fiery lava flow. The four-note motif of the “Transformation” cue reprises. Dire horns resound as he smashes the crystal ball and a lightning bolt destroys the bridge. In desperation they summon Barani who appears supported by a repeating six-note string phrase with woodwind counter. He provides them a rope attached to the cave roof, and they swing to safety carried by harp glissandi and muted horns. Parisa sees the lava flow below and realizes this is her chance to liberate Barani and keep her word. The six-note motif returns and raises tension as she hesitates, fearing it might kill him. Sinbad convinces her to honor her word, and dire horns resound in a descent motif as she tosses the lamp into the lava as Sokurah watches in horror. They reach the dragon, and use the gear wheel to pin it to the wall so they may pass. Menacing woodwinds and horns carry their progress. Music for these scenes is not found on the album. In “Dragon And Cyclops” they exit the cave only to be confronted by a cyclops. They flee back into the cave with it in pursuit, and free the dragon so as to bar its way. Repeating two-note phrases by dire horns and low register orchestral growling support Sinbad and Parisa as they flee for their lives. At 0:53 an intensification supports the dragon breaking its chain and moving towards the cyclops. At 1:05 the battle is joined and Herrmann supports with a maelstrom of timpani and horns barbaro, which swells with monstrous power. The Dragon prevails and the horns grow silent. The cue ends here, but in the movie a menacing repeating four-note phrase by timpani and horns carries Sokurah and the dragon’s pursuit.

“The Crossbow” reveals Sinbad rejoining his crew and ordering them to arm the crossbow. Herrmann raises tension with a repeating cadence of thunderous timpani and horns dramatico as the men pull the arrow back to its firing position. In “The Death Of The Dragon” painful horns resound after Sinbad shoots the arrow, which mortally wounds the beast, causing it to collapse and crush Sokurah. As Sinbad and the men flee, the dragon rights itself and pursues them, empowered by the previous timpani cadence, but the beast is clearly dying and with each step we hear the power of the horn blares weakening and descending deeper and deeper into their depths until they are stilled as a gong strike marks the dragon collapsing in death “Finale” reveals Sinbad’s ship sailing home amidst the red flame lite clouds of sunset. Woodwinds solenne emote the Love Theme as they cast a parting gaze at Colassa as Parisa grieves for Harufa. As they our lovers turn to each other the theme warms on sumptuous strings as they recall Barani, who miraculously joins them on the bridge. He declares that he is no longer a genie, but his cabin boy! Sinbad orders him to prepare his cabin, but Barani states that he already has. As Sinbad and Parisa open the door they behold the treasure trove of the cyclops and the Love Theme flows into the sumptuous B Phrase of the Main Theme. They return to Barani, Sinbad commends him, and they sail home carried by a celebratory statement of the A Phrase of the Main Theme.

I would like to Robert Townson for this magnificent rerecording of Bernard Herrmann’s long sought classic. The audio quality is excellent and the performance of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under John Debney’s baton, superb. Herrmann was reluctant to join the film, yet when he did, there was no turning back as he quickly established himself as a master of the fantasy genre. As wondrous were Harryhausen’s creations, I believe it was Herrmann’s music, which animated them and brought them to life. Throughout his career Herrmann infused his scores with non-traditional sonorities and instrument combinations. In this film he succeeded brilliantly in both his conception of these beasts, but also his execution. In scene after scene he brought a level of terror and monstrosity, which enhanced the film, and allowed Schneer and Harryhausen to realize their creative vision. He also masterfully established the film’s setting with expert use of the exotic ethnic auras of Arabia. It was traditional during the Golden Age for composers to support the film’s narrative melodically. While Herrmann did so here, he also deviated from classical norms of the day by using two to six-note repeating non-melodic motifs to sow unease, create mystery and propel the film’s pacing. Now a days this has become a staple in the tool kit of modern composers, but at the time it was a bold innovation. Folks, I consider this a brilliant gateway score for Bernard Herrmann in the fantasy genre, and a classic from the late Golden Age. I highly recommend you purchase this album as an essential score for your collection. Lastly, I would like to thank my friend Henry Stanny for assisting me in this review by loaning me his Prometheus rerecording. I was unsure as to which recording to review, and having listened to both, decided to use Robert Townson’s.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a YouTube link to the rousing and now iconic Overture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IwmGomRRZ4

Buy the Seventh Voyage of Sinbad soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Overture (2:04)
  • The Fog (2:21)
  • The Princess (1:00)
  • The Stone Gate (1:43)
  • The Cyclops (3:17)
  • The Trumpets (0:19)
  • Bagdad (2:45)
  • Sultan’s Feast (1:35)
  • The Vase (0:35)
  • Cobra Dance (1:16)
  • The Prophesy (1:36)
  • The Pool (1:18)
  • Night Magic (1:34)
  • Tiny Princess (1:20)
  • The Ship (1:10)
  • The Fight (1:58)
  • The Return (1:10)
  • The Skull (1:05)
  • The Cave (1:14)
  • The Capture (0:51)
  • The Fight With The Cyclops (1:16)
  • Cyclops’ Death (1:26)
  • The Cliffs (1:11)
  • The Egg (1:19)
  • The Request (1:19)
  • The Genie’s Home (3:18)
  • The Fight With The Roc (1:51)
  • The Nest (2:09)
  • The Dragon (2:24)
  • Transformation (2:05)
  • The Skeleton (0:57)
  • The Duel With The Skeleton (1:39)
  • The Sword (0:32)
  • Dragon And Cyclops (1:54)
  • The Crossbow (1:08)
  • The Death Of The Dragon (0:54)
  • Finale (1:51)

Running Time: 57 minutes 44 seconds

Varese Sarabande VSD-5961 (1958/1998)

Music composed by Bernard Herrmann. Conducted by John Debney. Performed by The Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Original orchestrations by Bernard Herrmann. Recorded and mixed by Jonathan Allen. Score produced by Bernard Herrmann. Album produced by Robert Townson.

  1. Edward Ambrose Sullivan III
    April 30, 2021 at 7:43 pm

    I head “The Cliffs” again today on Sirius/XM ‘Classics on Film’ and suddenly recognized the echo of Herrmann’s high-tension Khyber Pass themes from his King of the Khyber Rifles soundtrack (1954)….

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