Exalted Movie Mondays – Sinbad: Legend of the Seven SeasSeptember 13, 2010
Today’s movie is actually the film that inspired Exalted Movie Mondays, but I’ve been waiting a while to post about it. I wanted to let my enthusiasm die down a little, to give myself a chance to post with a more fair and balanced outlook. But, since that doesn’t look like it’s ever going to happen, I’ll go ahead and give you a taste of Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas today.
The movie itself is a tribute to the character of the same name from Arabian mythology and culture. Numerous movies have been made of this character, including The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is an animated film in the same style and genre.
The basic plot of the film is a convoluted series of manipulations, mostly spurred by Eris, goddess of discord. It revolves around Syracuse and the Twelve Nations, and the mystical artifact that protects them all (presumably from Eris herself, though this is never explicitly stated). Sinbad is forced to recover this artifact, and along the way he is forced to explore who he really is. The main conflict is internal: is Sinbad a hero or a villain? Don’t worry… it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The drama is good, but the set pieces and action sequences are perfect for a rollicking, swashbuckling adventure.
It helps that the art style, for me, is inherently Exalted in nature. Whenever I play an Exalted character, I tend to imagine them drawn in the same manner as the characters in Sinbad. Moreover, the ridiculous stunts and over-the-top action fit perfectly with an athletic Night caste sailor and his Eclipse traveling companion. Naturally, it’s cartoony, but Exalted lends itself quite well to unrealistic action, so, to me, it fits perfectly. It sets the tone for the games I try to run.
In fact, the entire setting of Sinbad could work perfectly in an Exalted game, especially one in the West abutting the Wyld. The artifact could serve well as a reality engine, protecting the civilizations from the Fair Folk (Eris). Hell, Sinbad even experiences three or four distinct waypoints, with narratively satisfying structures and creatures that would fit perfectly in the courts of the Fae. Of course, this is because it is a story, but that doesn’t lessen the impact a whit.
If you plan to play or run Exalted, I cannot recommend this movie enough. Watch it. If you think it can’t provide inspiration just because it’s a cartoon, think again. I’ve heard numerous individuals disparage the film because it’s a Dreamworks animated picture, but it contains some of the finest storytelling I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. Its use of subtext is amazing, and the characters’ facial expressions (props to the artists!) tell as much as their words and actions. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas is not only a worthy successor to the character and mythology, but is also an excellent reference for anyone looking to run or play in a swashbuckling, high-action setting. I could watch this movie on a loop… and, in fact, I may go do that right now.