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Monday, 29 May 2017

Celebrating Four Decades Of Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger...


While we are all, quite rightly, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, let's not forget that this year is also the 40th anniversary of another film that had a life-changing impact on 10-year-old me: Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger.

My favourite of the loose trilogy of Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movies (probably because it was the first I saw, and on the big screen), I have written several times in recent years about the major impact this movie had on my early roleplaying life.

While I don't remember whether I saw this before or after Star Wars, I do remember going, with my parents, to see Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger in a double-bill with Lost In The Desert, at a small cinema in Tonbridge that is sadly long gone.

Although I read the novelisation of this Sinbad tale (and still own my well-loved original copy of the book), I think it's fair to say that if this film had received the marketing and merchandising of George Lucas's little space story, Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger would have had an even bigger impact on my geeky life.

Four decades ago, my gaming primarily revolved around endless sessions of Dungeons & Dragons with my near-neighbour in Pembury, Andrew 'Gublin' Patterson.

The first campaign I ran, and played in, was heavily influenced by the voyages of Sinbad, as depicted in The Eye Of The Tiger (including not only my unimaginatively-named character, Sinbad, but also the characters sailing through the ice wall at the edge of the world to find a hidden temple).

When special effects genius Ray Harryhausen died in 2013, I took part in an old school blogfest to celebrate the impact his movies had on the gaming world, and wrote an article about Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger, adding in some Swords & Wizardry statistics for key monsters and magic items.

While, Ray's work - and the Sinbad movies - never directly touched my parallel love of comic books and superheroes at the time (it was many, many years later that I discovered comic book adaptations of the Sinbad stories), it's fair to say I wouldn't be the gamer I am today without the influence of Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger at such a tender, impressionable, age.

It laid the groundwork for all future fantasy games I either played in or ran, whether that influence ever overtly manifested itself at the table or not.

Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger's 40th anniversary is the subject of the latest Ray Harryhausen Podcast from The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation.

Foundation trustee John Walsh and collections manager Connor Heaney discuss the film and its legacy in depth, in an hour-and-a-quarter show that includes previously unreleased commentary clips of special effects gurus Ray Harryhausen and Colin Arthur discussing their behind-the-scenes memories.

The episode also includes reminiscences from Ray’s daughter, Vanessa Harryhausen, as she recalls her time spent on the set of the movie, and her feelings for it all these decades later.

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