Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Clash of the Titans

Having learned that there is a remake underway of Clash of the Titans, I thought it would be a good time to watch the original. I recall this movie from my childhood. During one week in 1981 my brother and sister spent the week at my grandparents' house. I could not go as I had baseball games. However, since my mom worked at night, on the nights that I didn't have a game my dad took me to the movies. We saw The Empire Strikes Back, The Great Muppet Caper, and Clash of the Titans. It was great bonding with my dad at the movies during that week.

The original Clash of the Titans stars Harry Hamlin as Perseus, son of Zeus. Hamlin went onto greater fame with L.A. Law. Also starring were Sir Lawrence Olivier as Zeus, Judi Bowker as Andromeda, Burgess Meredith as Ammon the playwrite, Claire Bloom as Hera, and Ursula Andress (of James Bond fame) as Aphrodite.

Perseus, heir to the kingdom of Argos, is moved by the goddess Thetis during a dream to Joppa where he is to marry Andromeda, but only after he can answer a riddle. If he fails, he will be burned at the stake.

Unfortunately for Joppa, Queen Cassiepeia's transgression of comparing her daughter's beauty to be superior to that of Thetis while in the temple dedicated to Thetis causes the status to come to life and declare that her daughter must be sacrificed to the Kraken, one of the titans. Andromeda must be unknown to a man (i.e. a virgin). If the sacrifice is not carried out, then the Kraken will destroy Joppa. It is now Persues' job to save Joppa.

Perseus' journey takes him to the far reaches of land, first to a visit to the Stygian witches, then across the River Styx to the isle of the dead to face Medusa, and several battles with Calibos, the son of Thetis and former fiancé of Andromeda. Calibos was transformed into a monster for his transgressions against Zeus, including the murder of the herd of flying horses except for Pegasus. To help him along his journey the gods give Perseus several gifts, including the helmet that makes him invisible, the sword that can cut stone, a talking shield that gives advice, sort of like a talking 8 ball, and Bubo, the magical owl.

This 1981 mythology classic is very dated by today's standards. It features double-screening and stop-motion special effects. However, when I was 9 years old, it was quite scary. The movie is rated PG for violence and nudity. And by nudity there was more than I remembered as a child, probably because naked women are less alluring to a 9 year old than a 37 year old. Had this movie been made today it would most likely be rated PG-13.

Clash of the Titans gets a boost because of my fondness for the movie as a child. It also gets a boost from the naked butts of Judi Bowker, and Vida Taylor. I sentimentally give Clash of the Titans 4 stars. Remember to put the remake in your Netflix queue. It stars Liam Neeson, Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes, and Alexa Davalos. It looks quite good.

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