It’s been some time since I last saw a movie, so weeks ago, I consented to see the modern take of Clash of the Titans on 3D. *This blog entry is late, I know. I made several blog entry drafts but never got to post them. I’ve been through some stuff lately so I wasn’t able to mind my blog. So sorry!* I have seen the 1981 release in an English class back when I was in senior high school. We had a module on basic literature study, which included Greek mythology. As a study aid, our teacher made us watch the said movie, the story of which is loosely based on the adventure of the Greek hero, Perseus.
I wanted to watch the original movie again before seeing the modern version, for comparison. It’s been roughly seven years since I last saw the 1981 version, so I had a vague recollection of how the said movie progressed. Besides, instances of seeing an old movie and its modern version come rarely in one’s life. With that, I scanned for my divx copy and transported myself to a time when movies were more challenging to make, but invoked endless creativity.
Plot Situation: Moderate Spoilers!
Clash of the Titans (1981) by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studios tells the adventure of Perseus, one of the earliest heroes in Greek mythology. We see his beginning as a simple seashore lad, up to his reclamation as a royal prince and the fulfillment of his destiny.
The film opens with Acrisius, king of Argos, and his soldiers throwing a sturdy casket out to sea. Contained within is his daughter, Danae and her child, Perseus. Such a cruel act is being done by Acrisius to forsake Zeus’ impregnation of his daughter. From Greek mythology, you will know that because of her beauty, Acrisius guarded his daughter from all men; however, failing to shield her from Zeus, the supreme god of Mount Olympus. Because of his insolence, Acrisius has sealed the fate of Argos—it will be wiped out from the face of the Earth by the Kraken, the last of the Titans. And because Zeus would never let Danae and his son be forgotten, he had arranged that they would be rescued by a fisherman and be raised as residents of the island of Seriphos.
After some time, the boy Perseus grew into a handsome young man. Through the intervention of the goddess, Thetis, he gets transported to an amphitheater in the city of Joppa. There, he meets Ammon, a poet and playwright. Through him, Perseus learns of Joppa, its people, and its kingdom. While in Joppa, Perseus receives gifts from his father—an indestructible sword, a sturdy shield with a reflective interior, and a helmet that dons its wearer invisible. The helmet is of significance as it helps him capture the winged horse, Pegasus.
Now, the city of Joppa is under the curse of the once handsome prince, Calibos, (son of Thetis). Because of his cruel acts—one of which was slaying Zeus’ horde of winged horses (except for Pegasus)—he was cursed to take on the form of a satyr and live as an outcast in the swamps and marches. Furious at her son’s fate, Thetis vowed that if Calibos cannot marry Andromeda, no other man will. To ensure this, every man who wishes to marry Andromeda is tasked to answer her riddle—the failure of which leads the suitor to be burned at the stake. The Joppan princess takes her riddles every night from Calibos—she is put into a trance, sleepwalks, and is transported by a giant vulture to his “swamp and marsh kingdom.”
Interestingly, the hero Perseus has a sword, shield, invisibility helmet, and Pegasus. What is to be expected? 😀
I’ll stop here, as far as the story’s main situation is concerned. Look for this old film and watch it. I very much recommend this classic.
Fit for A Legend
The film serves as a very good example of a legend/fairytale-adventure. Although it didn’t closely follow the story of Perseus as in Greek mythology, it was carefully crafted to actually deliver an entertaining folk tale. The story was well-told without any hanging endings. Kids will actually be able to grasp the overall plot of the story, as it follows the classic problem-rising action-climax-resolution formula of storytelling. Character development, however, was not fully developed as there were a lot of characters to actually focus enough time for character exploration on each one. Plus, the story had a lot of action-adventure going on. It makes up for this though by satisfactorily portraying the significance of each character to Perseus.
The movie integrated well-known mythological characters into a single story, delightfully surprising anybody who watches it. There were, among others, the moody and polygamous gods and goddesses of Mt. Olympus; Pegasus, the winged horse (supposedly more associated with Hercules); the three stygian witches who share a single eye; the snake-haired Medusa, whose stare can turn anyone into stone; and Charon, the ferryman of the river Styx (the river of death). Evidently, the film is a very good aid for teaching mythology or the forms of English storytelling.
For effects, the old movie makes use of stop-motion filming. In this ancient technique, animators change the position of characters from frame to frame, much like in the concept of illustrated animation. Obviously, this technique takes a lot of time, from about two weeks to over a quarter of a year. This fact has lead me to appreciate films crafted in this manner. Just think of all the hard work and dedication thrown into these films just to entertain you! This is art as epitomized in the movies.
It was a joy to see this old film again, after several years. I have actually appreciated it more than I did back then. The beauty that it contains is now more visible and comprehensible. It stays with you and, somehow, stirs creativity within.
After watching, I saw the modern adaptation and compared it to the old. Read the succeeding blog post. [>>]
- Clash of the Titans (1981 film). Wikipedia. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clash_of_the_Titans_%281981_film%29]
- Furniss, Maureen. “Animation.” Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008.
- Hamilton, Edith 1999. Mythology. 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York: Warner Books, Inc.
- Film Poster: Clash of the Titans (1981) DVD | LOVEFiLM [http://www.lovefilm.com/film/Clash-Of-The-Titans/45031/]