November 30, 2015

Sokurah the Sorcerer

Tonight I watched The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, a Ray Harryhausen film from 1958. I love the stop motion animation in this film, but I am particularly fond of the sorcerer character, Sokurah, played by Torin Thatcher. His costume in this film is perfect in its simplicity: simple black robe with a black cloak decorated with mysterious, occult symbols. I appreciate when magicians are rendered in this way: quite ordinary on the surface but possessing great depths and deep secrets. Later Sokurah evolves, becomes quite extraordinary, the most dangerous denizen of the deadly Island of Colossus. He has a mysterious underground castle, a scrying sphere, and a pet dragon; he is a necromancer and alchemist,  and is able to animate a skeleton and command it as his loyal guardian and soldier. Although Sokurah transforms from court jester to arch-villain, his death, at the end of the film, sees him come full circle; he is squashed, quite incidentally, when his pet dragon, wounded in the breast by a giant crossbow bolt, falls upon him. This always seemed like the perfect, symmetrical finish for this character: clown becomes villain becomes clown again.