Clash of the Titans (1981)

Dir: Desmond Davis, 1981. Starring: Harry Hamlin, Judi Bowker, Burgess Meredith, Maggie Smith, Laurence Olivier. Fantasy.
Clash of the Titans (1981)

CLASH DANCE The well known and much revered stop-motion special effects guru Ray Harryhausen has brought numerous beings of various shapes and sizes to life over his career (The 3 Worlds of Gulliver, Jason and the Argonauts, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger). In the mythological world of Clash of the Titans there are many interesting characters and creatures. Playing God behind the camera one frame at a time, Harryhausen has brought some of his most memorable offspring to life (Medusa, Pegasus, Giant Scorpions, the Kracken).

STORYLINE OF THE GODS Here’s the deal, Zeus (Laurence Olivier), in one of his many amorous exploits, has had a son named Perseus (Harry Hamlin). Due to Zeus’ favoritism of Perseus over the Goddess Thetis’ (Maggie Smith) son Calibos, a clash begins [insert opening credits and dramatic musical score here]. From that point on Perseus sets out on a quest to "fulfill his destiny" by defeating numerous obstacles, slaying fantastic beasts, and winning the hand of the doll-faced Andromeda (Judi Bowker). The script was penned by Beverly Cross who also scripted other Harryhausen films such as Argonauts and Eye of the Tiger.

ALONG THE WAY Answering a riddle, capturing the Pegasus, fighting the Medusa the Gorgon and that pesky Kracken are all tasks Perseus must complete in this grand adventure. Luckily he is repeatedly aided by his father and gifts from the other Gods (a magic helmet, a magic shield, a magic sword, magic everything!) Also along his way he befriends a delightful old scalawag of a theater actor named Ammon (Burgess Meredith). And in Star Wars-like fashion Perseus has a sidekick in the form of a mechanical owl named Bubo that makes odd chirping noises which only he can understand [R2D2 much!!!]. Sign of the times or a sign from the gods?

KRACKEN UP Talk about a monster movie. Enter the Kracken, a tentacle-armed glorified water ape with a fish tail!!! Kowabunga what fun! Leave it to the stop-motion genius of Ray Harryhausen to come up with something like that. To this day the Kracken from Clash of the Titans is one of my personal all-time favorite movie monsters. It has a nose, a beak, scales, fins, and four arms! Really, how cool is that? Way cool!

CLASH AND BURN Clash of the Titans may be one of the more fun creature-clad adventure films of its day. I must say my current re-watch was prompted by the soon to be released remake of the same title. Yes, digital effects can do just about anything imaginable. However, there is something very much to be said about old fashioned, handmade analog animated effects that really make my little cinephilic heart go beep! Check out the new but re-watch the old too, m’kay!

NOTE: I couldn’t help but notice throughout the film a kind of lingering that takes place within certain scenes. I have no idea if this was particularly intentional, the editing style of the editor/era or done to showcase the amazing stop-motion work of Harryhausen. It may just be that I’m a child of quick paced MTV-style editing. I’m not certain. Just something I happened to notice.

Posted by:
Joey Jenkins
Mar 29, 2010 11:32am
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