Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas: About the production: Fantasy worlds
The filmmakers utilized some advances in animation in the design of Tartarus, the home of Eris, which lay beyond the edge of the world. Depicted as an ever-shifting ocean of sand, Tartarus was realized as a result of an ongoing collaboration between the production design and effects teams.
Production designer Raymond Zibach says, “Tartarus presented a huge challenge in how to show the land of chaos where Eris resides. We went through multiple versions until Tim Johnson came up with the idea of sand that would be animated like water’this chaotic terrain that you can stand on but not control.”
Ikeler expounds, “We rendered waves of sand that move like waves on the ocean, and as they rise and fall, they reveal the ruins of ancient cities. We had to do a lot of particle effects that come with having sand blowing across the surface or trickling down the face of whatever is revealed when the sand recedes.”
The main set of the film was The Chimera, the ship that carries Sinbad, Marina and their crew from one adventure to the next. Zibach and co-art directors Seth Engstrom and David James had a great deal of fun with the design of the ship, as well as its clever gadgets, which, for the design team, made The Chimera a character in the film.
“The Chimera is more than a ship; it is a wonderful tool at Sinbad’s disposal,” Zibach states. “The main objective was to make it simple but bold in its shape and then build on it without getting too sci-fi’to keep it within the period that the story takes place.”
The beautiful ancient city of Syracuse was intentionally designed not to reflect any one culture. John Logan notes, “The legend of Sinbad has been reinterpreted many times, so in exploring elements of the different tales, we created a wholly fantastical world in which to put our Sinbad. We wanted to create a world of men and monsters’a place where myth could be made real’so we kept it away from actual places and created a Syracuse of the imagination, relating not at all to the Syracuse in Italy’or Syracuse, New York, for that matter.”
Mireille Soria offers, “We wanted our Syracuse to combine the romanticism of Venice and the exoticness of Damascus, so Raymond, Seth and David did a lot of research through art and architecture. They brought in the flavors of the Middle East, Greece and Italy, and then shook them up to make the setting original and new.”
The musical score, composed by Harry Gregson-Williams, was another aspect of the production that incorporated a blend of cultural influences. “The core of the music is orchestral, but it’s not necessarily traditional,” Gregson-Williams remarks. “The setting of the story is unspecific, which gave me license to use a smattering of different ethnic instruments.”
Gilmore says, “We went to Harry specifically because we had created this fantasy world for ‘Sinbad,’ and it needed a musical voice that wasn’t familiar. After having scored movies like ‘Shrek,’ ‘Chicken Run’ and ‘Antz,’ he is used to composing for worlds that don’t exist. Harry delivered an amazing musical journey to accompany Sinbad’s adventures. He created this fully orchestrated score, with ethnic sounds to make it feel exotic and fantastic, but contemporary in its arrangements.”
That approach fit in perfectly with the filmmakers’ goals for “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.” “We really wanted to take Sinbad, this fabulous adventure character from the past, and bring him to a 21st-century audience,” Johnson comments.
Brad Pitt believes the film’s appeal will also transcend age groups, remarking, “I love this film; it’s fantastically fun. I originally thought of doing it for my nieces and nephews, but even now, as an adult, this is my kind of movie. What the filmmakers went after was a movie that everyone could get something out of, and I think they truly pulled it off. Since parents usually end up seeing a film over and over with their kids, it’s nice that they can enjoy it, too.”
John Logan reflects, “All of the old Sinbad stories and movies have that swashbuckling fun to them, and certainly we tried to capture that joy of adventure in our Sinbad. But what surprised me about this movie is how adult it is. It has all the freewheeling fun of an animated movie, but at its core there is this romantic story about how this man discovers his better self.”
Katzenberg agrees, “Through all his adventures, Sinbad learns that there are some things you can’t escape. When it comes to love or even a great friendship, you can run, but you can’t hide. It stays with you, which is a powerful lesson to learn.”