SINBAD: THE LEGEND OF THE
SEVEN SEAS is a surprisingly worthwhile, redemptive, and moral movie!
Better yet, a day of discussions with the animators, directors, and
writer showed that its entire moral content was intentional.
Tim Johnson, one of the two
directors, said, "Working in animation is an excuse to thematic" because
"kids use stories to live." Therefore, Tim tries to say "something
positive" in every one of his movies. His co-director, Patrick Gilmore,
brought his Eagle troop to the screening. He said he was happy that the
young boys loved the movie, but even happier that their fathers loved
the moral messages of the movie.
Writer John Logan (STAR TREK:
NEMESIS and GLADIATOR) says that he wanted Sinbad to "look in the mirror
to find out who he was and who he wanted to be." Sinbad sees that he’s
been selfish, cold-hearted, cruel, and irresponsible. His epiphany leads
him to choose the truth. Other themes portrayed in the story are
self-sacrifice and moral virtues.
Logan weaves these moral
themes expertly into the plot. Although MOVIEGUIDE® thought that Logan’s
GLADIATOR was too violent, we are grateful that in the animated SINBAD,
John felt that it was very important to tell "a story of personal
redemption." SINBAD is indeed, as John intones, "a compelling story that
examines what is friendship and what are values."
The script is possibly the
best part of SINBAD. Some of the animation is sketchier than a Disney
movie. John Logan says he likes the classic Aristotelian script
structure, which clearly shows in the motional wallop of the movie.
Children cheered at the end. That is exactly what happens when you get
the story structure right.
John said that, when he took
the project, he thought there was just one Sinbad story. Instead, his
assistant came back with over 100 books. He found out that there were
Arabian, Persian, Greek, and Roman stories about Sinbad. Evidently the
story itself had traveled throughout the Mediterranean. John chose the
Greek version of SINBAD because the philosophy of the story was more
comprehensible to him.
It should be noted that one
of MOVIEGUIDE®’s complaints with GLADIATOR was its historical
inaccuracies. For instance, there are longbows in that movie, which did
not appear in a battle until hundreds of years later, when Henry V used
the longbow to win his amazing victory at Battle of Agincourt (1415).
Also, historically, a third of the Roman Senate was Christian at the
time, and the Emperor’s common law wife was a Christian.
SINBAD also has a lot of
anachronisms, but, as an animated movie, it is less likely to be used in
advanced history classes, which is just what’s happening with GLADIATOR
right now. John said that he is not remotely concerned with historical
accuracy. He is a dramatist. However, as a married man, I think perhaps
he should visit some of the schools where GLADIATOR is being shown as an
historical movie, and then help them understand the difference between
the movie and history. In the final analysis, he is in the best position
not to inculcate children’s minds with revisionist history.
Actually, you can be true to
both history and drama. John seems to have a good heart and a concern
for redemption and morals, so we pray that he’ll also be concerned for
history and the youth that see his movies, especially since one of his
forthcoming movies is a biopic on Abraham Lincoln.
It is worthwhile to note that
the three key men in this production are married, and that the directors
were very concerned about their children. Patrick Gilmore especially
said that his life is on the line for his children.
In the final analysis,
interviewing people at DreamWorks for SINBAD and at Pixar involved with
FINDING NEMO, all of whom are concerned about personal redemption and
presenting moral values, one might conclude that animated movies have
become the heart and soul of Hollywood. Or, as the L.A. Times
once noted, animated movies are telling the great stories.
IN BRIEF: SINBAD: LEGEND
OF THE SEVEN SEAS is a delightful surprise, a very well-written animated
movie with exciting sequences that rival big screen epics. The movie
tells the story of Sinbad of Arabian Nights fame. In this version of the
oft-told tale, Sinbad is a pirate, trying to cap off his career by
stealing the Book of Peace. Eris, the goddess of chaos, impersonates
Sinbad, however, and steals the Book of Peace herself. Sinbad is blamed
and condemned to death, but Proteus, Sinbad’s friend, says that he will
take Sinbad’s place, freeing Sinbad to go to the edge of the world to
retrieve the book from the satanic goddess. Many harrowing adventures
occur before this mythic tale comes to an end.
The problem with SINBAD is
that much of the mythology seems all too convincing, and there are some
sexual innuendoes and scary monsters and situations. There is a strong
Christian allegory running underneath the story, however. Sinbad lays
down his life for his friends. He also chooses honor over selfishness,
truth over falsehood, and trust over irresponsibility… all those
Christian virtues set forth so clearly in the Bible, the real Book of
© baehr, 2003
This update is
published by the Christian Film & Television Commission (http://www.
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