Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
—About this Film
Disclaimer: I love animated movies because they are always so well structured. The hero and the villain are always clearly defined, and the characters usually have an obvious change of heart, and the theme can rarely be missed. With this in mind, what sets apart one animated movie from another seems to be action and creativity. To keep the attention of children under age 10 for more than five minutes, something must always be happening. And admittedly, my favorite part of this movie was listening to the little boy in the row behind me laughing and giggling throughout the movie. I give it great marks for ingenuity, creativity, thematic development and an excellent series of action scenes.
Right up front, Sinbad is faced with his quest, to find out if he is a thief or a hero. Though the outward journey is an attempt to recover the Book of Peace from the evil goddess Eris, the inward journey is to recover the boy of his youth. Sinbad and his counterpart, Proteus, grew up best friends. But, the ten year separation and Sinbad’s thieving antics over the years have raised doubts in Proteus’ mind as to Sinbad’s character. The two meet again as Sinbad is trying to steal the Book of Peace from Proteus’s ship. Although Sinbad admits he did not know it was Proteus’ ship, he nonetheless chooses treasure over friendship. Only the attack of the sea monster, Cetus, forces Sinbad to abandon his plan and help his friend. Sinbad is offered another chance to do right by his friend when Proteus puts his neck on the line for him. However, Sinbad’s first choice is to go to Fiji to retire rather than making the noble quest to Tartarus, recover the Book of Peace and save Proteus’ life. Only because Proteus’ fiancé, Marina, stowed away on the ship is he again forced to make the right decision.
We get the impression throughout the movie that Sinbad wants to be a good guy, but his love of self continues to get in the way. Proteus rejects his father’s offer to escape the death penalty (under the assumption that Sinbad will not return with the book or to save his life) and thereby reinforces his belief that the caring boy of their youth remains within the heart of Sinbad. Eris tries desperately to convince Sinbad otherwise, telling him over and over that he has a black heart that cannot be changed. Marina represents the voice of Proteus (and later her own voice) as she affirms that Sinbad is indeed a worthwhile individual. Eventually, Sinbad begins to make caring, sacrificial choices of his own volition and the hero emerges.
One thing that stands out in my mind is that Sinbad is a man of second choices. Oftentimes, our first choices are selfish and even wrong. Yet, the power of encouraging words and friendship often produce the second choice. In his quest, it was the faith of those who saw something deeper within him that drove Sinbad to embrace the heroic. This calls to mind the importance of encouraging one another in our own lives. The power of words, to heal or to destroy, is remarkable. How many of us have been changed by the words or actions of just one person who believed in us? And how many times have we been defeated by those negative messages that come our way? It’s certainly worth considering.
Another thing that stands out to me is the value of a promise kept. Proteus’ promise to die for Sinbad if he did not return was kept (when he had the option to escape). Sinbad’s promise to return with The Book of Peace or to die was kept (although he had not retrieved the book). The goddess Eris was forced to keep her promise to Sinbad (the end of the movie which I won’t give away). Marina’s allegiance to Proteus during their engagement was kept in tact (when she declined a kiss from Sinbad and later returned to Proteus’ side despite her attraction to Sinbad). All of these situations prove that though the road may be treacherous, a promise can be kept. Things usually work out for the man or woman who chooses integrity….even if integrity was their second choice.
The last thing that stands out is the dynamics of faith and works in this film. Both Proteus and Marina believe in Sinbad, and both declare their faith in him. However, it would mean nothing if they weren’t forced to back it up with their actions. Proteus literally puts his life on the line and Marina sails off the edge of the world with Sinbad. In the spiritual debate of faith vs. works, this is a great illustration of how sometimes faith calls us to action. If we say we believe something and yet do nothing with it, do we really believe it? And what of action into faith? When Eris asks Sinbad to answer one question honestly in order to get the book back, she asks “If you do not get the book back, will you return and die?” He answers yes, but Eris knows he is lying. He does not get the book. It is only by returning to Syracuse to die that faith begins within him. Sometimes life is like that too. Often we are faced with a decision to act blindly, to choose right though it seems to have no positive outcome for us. But it is in those moments that faith is built. It is in stretching our necks under the axe that we see the power and triumph of a good God. And there, faith is born to face the next trial.