Monday, May 25, 2009

Clash of the Titans (1981)

Harry Hamlin, Burgess Meredith, Clash of the Titans
Though technically the story of Perseus and not of any Titans, Clash of the Titans is a fun romp through Greek mythology. It follows the life of Perseus (Harry Hamlin), son of Zeus (Sir Laurence Olivier), throughout his life up to his marriage to Andromeda (Judi Bowker). Throughout his life he befriends Pegasus, gets a pet mechanical owl, and kills Calibos,1 the Grogan Medusa, and the Kraken.2

One of the crazy things about Clash of the Titans is the casting. In addition to Hamlin3 and Olivier, the cast includes Dame Maggie Smith as the goddess Thetis, Ursula Andress as Aphrodite, Burgess Meredith as the poet Ammon. The movie also contains special effects by Ray Harryhausen who did the effects for many of the classic Greek legend films (notably the Sinbad and Jason films). With Harryhausen's special effects, as well as its legendary casting, it almost feels like a film out of the 50s and 60s rather than the 80s.

Ursula Andress, Claire Bloom, Maggie Smith, Susan Fleetwood, Clash of the Titans
The pacing of the film also feels a bit slower than a film from the 80s, so watching Clash of the Titans feels like watching a classic epic film. Perhaps not as Cecille B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments or Stanley Kubrik's Spartacus, but a classic film nevertheless. The movie does incorporate some humorous elements that remove the classic epic element, the most obvious example being the mechanical owl sent to help Perseus, and Meredith's frequent mugging for the camera.

This movie is good for when you want something with some light action, and some epic qualities. I'm not sure that I would use it as an instructional video on Greek mythology, as it's not entirely accurate to the Perseus myth. Despite this, it's still fun to watch. If you haven't seen it, check it out. If you have seen it, watch it again.

Harry Hamlin, Clash of the Titans
Notes:
1. I believe Calibos may be a creation of the film makers. He is the son of a real Goddess, but one that I was largely unfamiliar with.
2. The Kraken is the only Titan in the film, but I believe Kraken are part of Norse mythology, not Greek... So close!
3. Though, this was his first big movie.

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