Its the Summer Blockbuster season at the cinema and Dirk has been taking a break from The World of Film over the past couple of weeks as I have been mugging up on the Harry Potter franchise ahead of watching the final film in the series. I watched it last week in glorious 3D in the luxurious surroundings of Manchester Filmwork’s Gallery seating. Despite eating my own body-wieght in complimentary popcorn and nachos, it was an enjoyable evening in the cinema. The Deathly Hallows is a splendid blockbuster in which the pyrotechnics are complimented by rounded characters and great performances.
There was one scene that I admired above all the others; the heist at Gringotts features the best dragon in cinema history and was worth the, considerable, price of admission on its own. I like a good monster and the rendering of the ‘Ukrainian Ironbelly’ who guards the vaults recalled some of the classics from Ray Harryhausen with a CGI twist.
Back in the 1970s, Harryhausen’s Sinbad movies were on a loop at the Odeon in Bolton and I would drag my dad to see them, insisting that it was ‘a new one’. We ended up seeing THE 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD about a dozen times. Dom has given me a copy of a ‘Horror Classics’ poster magazine that was published circa 1973:
“This month we have great pleasure in presenting the film classic from Columbia pictures: The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. Following the enormous success of the second film in the Sinbad series, namely, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. Columbia have decided to release 7th Voyage. Keep an eye out for it at your local cinema.”
I don’t know whether it was confusion caused by the lobby cards, or my young mind (after all I used to wait at the fire doors at the back for the actors to come out), but I was convinced that every time I dragged my dad to the cinema there would be a different film to see.
The Harry Potter dragon sequence is one of the favourites of the visual effects supervisor, Tim Burke, who had a team of specialists to deliver the spectacular scene. The poster magazine makes the point that, the Sinbad films were the result of a singular vision:
“Harryhausen not only dreams up and executes the many complicated sequences in his fims but he also does the complicated pre-production sketches that are works of art in their own right.”
Although the second film will always have a special place in my heart because of Caroline and the appearance of Tom Baker, it is the first film that has the best monsters: a cyclops, a snake lady, the first skeleton, a two-headed roc and a brilliant dragon. Eventually there was a ‘new film’ in the form of ‘The Eye of The Tiger‘ but it was never really very satisfactory compared to the first two films.
This poster magazine has a good ‘pin up’ of the cyclops, but a fairly rubbish comic strip of of the story. The reason why the cyclops is so successful in the film is that it seems to cause a real threat to the characters. There is wailing mash-up of wild animals and a fairly convincing sense of jeopardy for the characters that we have grown to like. It is the reason that the monsters in Potter work so well – Peter Jackson’s forthcoming Smaug has a lot to live up to!