Movie of the Day – Clash of the Titans (1981)
September 4, 2011 3 Comments
If you are expecting to read about the atrocious remake with Sam Worthington, you should be ashamed. I am talking about the “classic” (relative to whom you talk to about this movie) mythical adventure film that gave us one last fan fare send off by dynamation creator (a form of stop-motion animation) Ray Harryhausen. I remember watching this when I was little and being floored by seeing these fanciful creatures coming to life on screen. A winged horse, a mechanical robot, fucking Medusa and the Kraken all coming to life on screen. Sure, looking back on the movie now, the effects are cheesy and look downright comical at times. You have to understand and appreciate the old school techniques that Harryhausen pioneered to give us this creature fest and memorable film. Yeah it doesn’t hold up very well to time, but it’s cemented in history for the effects and story telling (again my opinion).
Harry Hamlin stars as Perseus, a mortal who, due to the interference of the mighty god Zeus (Laurence Olivier), finds himself in the city of Joppa, far away from his island home. There, he falls in love with Andromeda (Judi Bowker), an imprisoned princess. To free her, win her hand, and thus half of the kingdom, Perseus solves a riddle, but Joppa’s enraged ruler orders Andromeda fed to the Kraken, a towering sea monster that’s the last of the powerful Titans. In his quest to save Andromeda, Perseus must endure a series of trials with the help of the winged horse Pegasus and a friendly playwright, Ammon (Burgess Meredith). His ultimate goal is to secure the head of the grotesque Gorgon named Medusa and use it to turn the Kraken into stone, but dangers await, including the hideously deformed Calibos (Neil McCarthy). – Karl Williams, Rovi
I wanted to use a quick synopsis since I would probably get all geeky and dive into the mythos of the story and have flashbacks to college and high school classes that talked about Greek Mythology. I will save everyone the heartache of this and talk more about why I enjoy the movie. Namely Vida Taylor’s backside (HIGH-FIVE), but all kidding aside, the thing that makes this great is the creature works from Harryhausen. If you have ever watched movies that deal with these grand, pulp adventures like the Sinbad series (not the windbreaker clad comedian) or any sword and sandal epics that deal with mythical creatures, then you have seen a movie in which Harryhausen is involved with.
The creature creations are mesmerizing in that they seamlessly integrate with the actors on the screen and requires a unique skill in order to make it all work. It’s a skill that has been replaced with animatronic models and computer generated creatures. I remember watching the movie when I was and finding the movements of the gorgon Medusa to be frightening. You have a snake woman coming to life and turning men into stone and practically dispatching an entire of group of soldiers so easily. The effects and make up were wonderful to look at, even if they don’t particularly hold up to the test of time, it still has this real feel to it. It doesn’t take away from the movie, but adds this certain charm that makes you long for nostalgic days.
Not to just praise the effects, but the story is a grand adventure, reminiscent to Jason and the Argonauts or even the Sinbad voyages done in the 70s. It feels episodic in nature, like you are watching a motion comic book and each scene is a new issue. There is something new in every scene and it doesn’t get stale with repetition. The movie is filled with incredible actors of their time and this collaboration is fun to watch.
If you have only seen the recent remake of the movie, you should really go back and pay homage to the old school Clash of the Titans. Yeah you might laugh at the effects, but understand that this is the way we got to enjoy these mythical stories in decades past and it was done by a dedicated team of stop motion animators. People who would create the monster model, move it ever so slightly frame by frame by frame and repeat the process until they have made a fluid monster scene. Their love and dedication is recorded for all to see and that is really what it’s all about. Dedication to the craft. You are also in luck as the movie is available on Netflix Instant Stream, unless you are one of the whiners that bitched and moaned about Netflix raising their price.