Seven Seas

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is a 2003 animated film produced by DreamWorks SKG with voices of characters from Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Joseph Fiennes.


The mainstream part of the plot begins when Arabian pirate named Sinbad is sent on a quest to find the legendary Book of Peace, a mysterious artifact that Eris, the Greek goddess of discord, has framed him for stealing. Given his background as a pirate, Sinbad's accusers do not believe his protestations of innocence. Sinbad's childhood friend Prince Proteus of Syracuse intervenes, offering to stay imprisoned in Sinbad's place while Sinbad quests to recover the book; if Sinbad cannot recover the book and does not return in the time aloudfor his quest, Proteus will be executed in his place. Initially, Sinbad would prefer to flee to the far corners of the world rather than undertake such a dangerous quest, hoping that Proteus' father will find some way to save his son; however, Sinbad discovers that the Lady Marina of Thrace, Proteus's spirited fianceé, has stowed away on board, determined to ensure that Sinbad fulfills his obligation to his friend, her betrothed. Prodded by her (and his own conscience), Sinbad ultimately decides to undertake the quest.

This story takes the name Sinbad, the presence of a Roc, as well as the incident wherein Sinbad and Company encounter an island that turns out to be the back of some great sea-beast from the Arabian Nights; however, much of the setting is derived from Greek mythology, including a trip to Tartarus to recover the Book and an encounter with the Sirens. The plot scenario of Proteus taking Sinbad's place is similar to the legend of Damon and Pythias. Throughout the film, Eris appears as a sadistic femme fatale who speaks in a lugubrious voice and is constantly in sinuous motion. During the course of events, Marina becomes very attached to Sinbad.

Ultimately, Sinbad reaches Tartarus and enters it, accompanied only by Marina. He meets with Eris, and realizes that her true goal in the theft was to prod Proteus into surrendering his life for Sinbad's. The execution of the heir to the throne of Syracuse will throw the entire region into chaos for years to come; something the Goddess of Discord greatly desires.

Sinbad bargains for the Book of Peace; Eris agrees to surrender the book if Sinbad truthfully answers a question: if he cannot gain possession of the book, will he fulfill his promise and return to die in his friend's place instead? Sinbad says he will return, but Eris accuses him of lying and sends him and Marina back to Earth without the book. Sinbad admits to Marina that he was lying, and that he did not intend to keep his word and die, even to save the life of his friend. Marina begs him to flee, hoping to return alone to Syracuse and somehow save both Proteus and Sinbad. Sinbad, however now knows that neither he nor she could live with themselves if Sinbad abandoned Proteus to die. Out of good conscience, he travels back to Syracuse, where he embraces the death penalty. Before the executioner can kill him, Eris intervenes, furious at Sinbad for his actions. Sinbad quickly realizes that, despite doubting himself earlier, he has indeed kept his word to return to Syracuse and surrender his life for Proteus, and that Eris, as a goddess, is bound to hold true to her promise to give him the Book. She gives him the Book and disappears, promising to find other places to destroy. Sinbad opens the Book and fulfills its purpose. Having saved the day Sinbad bids good-bye to Syracuse, to embark on another voyage, leaving Marina behind, despite their burgeoning romance. Proteus, however, has realized that Sinbad and Marina have fallen in love, and bids Marina to go with Sinbad. She and Sinbad sail away, presumably to have many more adventures in the future.


Reaction and Box Office

The film was considered a commercial disaster in the US, where it became the lowest earning film of 2003 to be shown at 3,000+ theatres. It would earn an estimated $26.5 million at 3,086 theatres in the US, though it managed to gross $74 million worldwide. Because of this, it is the last traditionally-animated feature film made by DreamWorks. Additionally, the film's poor performance led Jeffrey Katzenberg to proclaim that traditional animation was dead, and the American public were more interested in computer animation, which led to much controversy with directors and animators who worked with the traditional format.

While the film was unsuccessful at the box office it did garner some positive reviews. Among them, Roger Ebert gave the film 3 and a half stars and concluded that, "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas" is another worthy entry in the recent renaissance of animation, and in the summer that has already given us "Finding Nemo," it's a reminder that animation is the most liberating of movie genres, freed of gravity, plausibility, and even the matters of lighting and focus. There is no way that Syracuse could exist outside animation, and as we watch it, we are sailing over the edge of the human imagination.

The fact that the film removes the story from its original Arabic context and places it in an entirely Greek setting earned it some criticism. Jack Shaheen, an academic who has written about Hollywood's portrayal of Arabs, believes that the studio feared financial and possibly political hardships if they made the film's hero Arab. "If no attempt is made to challenge negative stereotypes about Arabs, the misperceptions continue. It's regrettable that the opportunity wasn't taken to change them, especially in the minds of young people," he said. At one point, Shaheen asked Katzenberg to include some references to Arabic culture in the film.


Sinbad is the first movie to be produced fully using the Linux operating system.

The monsters and the backgrounds in the film are mostly computer-generated, while the human characters are hand-drawn.


A PC game based on the film was released by Atari, who worked closely with one of the film's directors, Patrick Gilmore. It was released prior to the DVD and VHS release of the film. Burger King released six promotional toys at the time of the film's release, and each toy came with a "Constellation Card Hasbro Inc. produced a series of Sinbad figures as part of its G.I. JOE action figure brand. The figures were 12" tall and came with a mythical monster.


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