Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is a 2003 animated swashbuckling fantasy comedy drama film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by DreamWorks Pictures, using traditional animation with some computer animation. It covers the story of Sinbad, a pirate who travels the sea to recover the lost Book of Peace from Eris in order to save his childhood friend, Prince Proteus, from accepting Sinbad's death sentence.
A pirate named Sinbad and his crew are chasing after a ship carrying the legendary Book of Peace, a mysterious artifact that protects the land from chaos to Syracuse, which he plans to steal and hold for ransom. He runs into his old friend Prince Proteus who is guarding it, despite this, he still plans to steal the book, until Cetus attacks the ship. Sinbad kills the monster but is dragged under water by one of its tentacles. He is saved by Eris, the Greek goddess of discord (chaos, disharmony, bad luck, evil, despair, unhappiness...), who makes a deal with him: in exchange for stealing and giving her the Book of Peace, she will give him whatever he wants if he comes to Tartarus, her realm of chaos, saying "follow that star beyond the horizon." Sinbad and his crew arrive at the palace and plan to steal the book, but Sinbad calls it off after he meets Proteus' fiancée Marina. Knowing that Sinbad himself won't do it, Eris disguises herself as him and steals the book, leaving his knife as evidence. Sinbad is imprisoned; he tries to explain that Eris framed him after he decided not to steal the book, but they don't believe him and he is sentenced to death. Proteus, however, does believe him and makes an offer, allowing Sinbad to go to Tartarus and get the book back, but if Sinbad doesn't return within 10 days, Proteus will be executed in his place. The court accepts and Sinbad is freed. Knowing that the king won't let his only son die, Sinbad decides to head for Fiji. However, Marina, Proteus' fiancée, has stowed away to make sure that Sinbad goes after the book. She convinces him and he changes course for Tartarus.
Sinbad is at first annoyed by Marina's presence, saying that a ship is no place for a woman, and constantly having to argue with her. Eris sends sirens to stop Sinbad, and the men of the crew fall under their spell. Marina and the ship's dog Spike keep their senses and save everyone. This wins Marina the trust of the rest of the crew, while Sinbad, not wanting to admit that he's wrong, only pays attention to the damage to his ship. The crew looks for wood on an island, only to find that the island is actually an impossibly gigantic angler fish-like creature. After narrowly escaping, they hitch a ride on the fish's tail, but cut it loose after a day, as almost everyone is sick from the ride. As the crew passes through the ruins of an ancient city, their ship and the water are frozen in place by Eris; when they try to break up the ice they are attacked by another impossibly enormous creature, this time a huge white bird; the Roc. While trying to rescue a crewman, Marina is captured by it and taken to the top of a frozen tower. Sinbad climbs up the side of the tower to rescue her. Sinbad gets to the top but he and Marina are found by the Roc and have to slide down a slope on Sinbad's shield. They are chased by the Roc through the ruins, causing the buildings to topple over. The Roc is crushed by the falling ice and stone. Sinbad and Marina get back to the ship, landing on the ship's sails. The falling ruins break the ice as well, allowing them to move further.
As times goes on, Sinbad starts to accept Marina and they both start to have feelings for each other. The crew makes it to the entrance of Tartarus, but they are stopped short by "The edge of the World", a huge gap where the world ends leaving the gate floating in mid air. Sinbad has his crew set the sails so that they will catch the wind flowing up from the rift and fly; it works and the ship flies to Tartarus. Marina and Sinbad go through the gates alone and enter Tartarus, there they meet Eris, who reveals that her real plan wasn't to steal the book but rather to rob Syracuse of Proteus, its next true Heir to the throne causing mass chaos once his father dies. Eris agrees to surrender the Book if Sinbad truthfully answers this question: 'if he cannot gain possession of the Book, will he fulfill his promise and return to die in his friend's place?'. 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 by herself to Syracuse and somehow save both Proteus and Sinbad. Sinbad nevertheless travels back to Syracuse, just as Proteus is about to be executed. Having fulfilled his promise, Sinbad has saved Proteus from the brink of death, but since he failed to bring back the book, must face the death penalty himself. Before the executioner can kill him, Eris intervenes, furious at Sinbad for his decision. Sinbad quickly realizes that, despite doubting himself earlier, he has indeed kept his word to return to Syracuse and surrender his life for Proteus. He now fully understands that this was Eris's test of honesty for him and that by returning as he had said he would, he had passed the test. Eris is furious, but she is an honorable goddess, so she keeps her promise by giving him the Book. Then she disappears, promising to find other places to destroy, whereupon Sinbad opens the Book, returning Syracuse to peace. Proteus turns to Sinbad, saying "For what it's worth, I think the Council believes you now." Later Sinbad leaves Syracuse to embark on another voyage, leaving Marina behind despite their burgeoning romance. Proteus realizes that Sinbad and Marina have fallen in love and bids Marina to go with Sinbad. She and Sinbad sail away, presumably to have more "adventures."
This story takes the name Sinbad, the presence of a Roc, and the incident wherein Sinbad and his crew encounter an island that turns out to be the back of a gigantic sea beast from the One Thousand and One Nights; however, much of the setting is derived from Greek mythology, including the presence of monsters that also appear as constellations, 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 is constantly in sinuous motion. During the quest, Marina and Sinbad fall in love with each other.
- This was the last DWA title to use the normal DreamWorks SKG logo.
- This was the last DWA title to have hand-drawn animation.
- This is the first DreamWorks Animation film to be released in July.
- Brad Pitt as Sinbad
- Catherine Zeta-Jones as Marina
- Michelle Pfeiffer as Eris
- Joseph Fiennes as Proteus
- Dennis Haysbert as Kale
- Adriano Giannini as Rat
- Timothy West as King Dymas
- Jim Cummings as Luca
- Frank Welker as Spike
Sinbad is the first film 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.
Russell Crowe was originally going to voice Sinbad, but he dropped out due to scheduling problems. He was replaced by Brad Pitt, who wanted to make a film his nieces and nephews could see. He explained: "They can't get into my movies. People's heads getting cut off, and all that." Pitt had already tried to narrate the previous DreamWorks animated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, but "it didn't work," with Matt Damon taking over the role. Pitt's purist intentions worried him that his Missourian accent would not be suitable for his Middle Eastern character. Despite that, the film-makers persuaded him that his accent will lighten the mood.
Michelle Pfeiffer, who voices Eris, the goddess of chaos, had struggles with finding the character's villainies. Initially, the character was "too sexual," then she lacked fun. After the third rewrite, Pfeiffer called Jeffrey Katzenberg and told him that he can fire her, but he assured her that this was part of the process.
Reception and Box Office
On opening weekend, the film earned $6,874,477 for a $2,227 average from 3,086 theaters, and $10,056,980 since its' Saturday start. It was a very disappointing opening as it only reached sixth place at the box office, behind Paramount Pictures' Rugrats Go Wild. In its second weekend, the film lost 37% to $4,310,834 for a $1,396 average from 3,086 theaters and finishing seventh. Produced on a $60 million budget, the film was not very successful in the US and UK, but it became a moderate box office success worldwide. Despite turning a profit, Jeffrey Katzenberg later proclaimed that traditional animation was dead; as the American public seemed more interested in computer animation, which led to much controversy with directors and animators who worked with the traditional format.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 46% of its critics gave positive reviews based on 114 reviews. Metacritic gave the film a 48/100 approval rating based on 33 reviews. However, Roger Ebert gave the film 3 1/2 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 Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat, 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. Steven Spielberg, a critic of 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, Spielberg asked Katzenberg to include some references to Arabic culture in the film.