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Clash of the Titans

A 1981 fantasy film directed by Desmond Davis and featuring stop motion animation by the legendary Ray Harryhausen.

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With Zeus by your side...anything is possible

  • Jul 25, 2009
  • by
Thanks to Netflix and their recommendation feature I was reintroduced to Clash of the Titans. This is one of those classic movies that remains permenantly stored in my subconscious, but until recently, remained unremembered in any conscious area of my brain. So when the nostalgic lightbulb goes off, it's a feeling that I enjoy tremendously. Before rewatching this classic, I had only vague memories of certain parts of the movie. What I remembered most was just how intimidated I was as a youth. Using the word "intimidated" gives more dignity to what was really going on in my impressionable world: I was scared shitless by Medusa. I believed her to be under my bed, resulting in my jumping into bed form as far away as I could manage. This probably went on for weeks before the effects of the movie worn off.

It doesn't surprise me then that when I rewatched Titans, I was just as "intimidated" now as I was before. Mind you, I wasn't olympic jumping into bed after the movie was over. But her creepy visage and the errie physics of her body was still enough to give me pause. I just learned now that stop-motion animation was used, which may be another testament to the efficacy of olden day technology versus CGI.

Plot brush-up: This is a remake of Greek material and like so many Greek myths they deal with the topic of destiny. Perseus is destined to undo the King of Argos, a fact that compels the current King Acrisius to punt an infant Perseus and his mom out to sea. A terrible decision since Zeus is Perseus' father. Consequently, all of Argos is destroyed by the Kraken by order of Zeus. Likewise, Zeus orders the other gods of Olympus to provide Perseus with gifts that will help him along in, quoting the theatrical Zeus,"finding and fulfilling his destiny."  This destiny includes marrying princess Andromeda. However, the goddess Thetis is offended by the arrogant claims made by Andromeda's mother and is stil bitter about Zeus having transformed her son Calibos into a creature so hideous that Satan himself would think twice about confronting. Thetis therefore demands Andromeda be sacrificed to the Kraken. To save Andromeda, Perseus sets out on a journey to claim the head of Medusa and use it to destroy the Kraken. It's mission impossibe, really, but with help from Zeus and the gods and a dose of "imagination and courage", anything is possible.

What is so remarkable about Titans is its ability to feel truly epic in just under two hours. Recent Greek myths put to the big screen, like Troy, somehow end up feeling like big budget play productions. But the graininess of Clash of the Titans somehow makes the whole thing feel amazingly authentic. For one, the actors who play the gods of mount olympus are mostly middle-aged and only mildly attractive. This gives them all a paternal nobility that is fitting of mythological dieties. It also makes gods that we no longer believe in, believable. Also, real actors in make-up are employed en leiu of CGI. I am, of course, referring to Calibos whose visage was almost as freaky as Medusa. Even when stop-motion animation is used for the full body sequences of Calibos, the result is so real and so full of weighy presence that I found myself feeling genuinely nervous for Perseus. I would not have wanted to battle Calibos -- even in stop-motion.

There's a part of me that knows my impressionable imagination is still lingering and therefore nostalgia alone allows me to forgive the flaws of the movie. Yes, there are parts that are just plain holky: We get plenty of glory shots where Perseus holds up his tin-sword triumphantly, savoring a few extra seconds, before cutting down a foe. And the camera never fails to zoom in on those romantic moments where Andromeda rushes into the arms of Perseus. But despite these laughable moments (and I did laugh), I still find it hard to imagine Hollywood matching the epic quality and gritty realism of this movie that is now nearly 30 years old. A remake is slated to be released in 2010, so maybe I'm wrong. I don't think I am, but we'll see...
Creepy Calibos

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July 26, 2009
One of the saddest days of my life will be when I hear the news that Ray Harryhausen has died. I have the same memories for his 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD that you do for CLASH OF THE TITANS which was his last film. I loved that one too although the budget did force him to incorporate more people wearing make up and mix them in with his animated figures which sometimes didn't work quite as well as everyone would have wished. Still his Medusa was as good as anything he had ever done. I was happy that I got to meet him briefly in Chicago where he was being honored at the Chicago Film Festival. I got his autograph on a Belgian theater poster of 7th VOYAGE too. I refuse to even deal with the thought of a remake which will undoubtedly use CGI.
July 26, 2009
I didn't see the 7th Voyage of Sinbad, but I'll have to add it to Netflix. Thanks for following my reviews, btw. Now that I've re-watched Clash I'm kind of in the mood for these old school flicks. I can't exactly put my finger on it, but it always impresses me more than CGI.
July 26, 2009
If you haven't seen VOYAGE I must ask if you've seen Harryhausen's other films which included JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS which many of us consider to be even better than VOYAGE. Then there are the lesser films THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD, SINBAD AND THE OF THE TIGER, and of course 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH, IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA, EARTH VERSUS THE FLYING SAUCERS etc.
July 26, 2009
No, I actually haven't seen the other films by Harryhausen. True to Netflix and their recommendation logarithm, I was automatically recommended some of these titles. I just added Jason and the Argonauts and moved it to position 1 on my queue, so I should be getting that very soon. They described Harryhausen as the Grand Poobah of stop motion. I must say, Netflix is the s**t! I don't know how I would get my hands on any of these movies otherwise.
July 26, 2009
Most video stores stock the best Harryhausen. His stuff has been re-released not long ago. In fact he participated in colorizing versions of his black and white flix 20 MILLIONS MILES TO EARTH, EARTH VERSUS THE FLYING SAUCERS, and IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA recently. Too bad that the company who did it couldn't get access to IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE which is one of the best story-wise, although its effects don't really add up to  much of anything.
More Clash of the Titans (1981 film... reviews
review by . July 19, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
*1/2 out of ****    If an older film can be considered "dated" - even by those who claim to be film aficionados - then was it really any good to begin with? I asked myself this very thing while watching the original 1981 "Clash of the Titans" and figured that this theory does indeed apply to it and a great number of other films that for whatever reason get recognition from large amounts of viewers. This is basically the kind of film that you had to grow up with to enjoy or appreciate …
review by . September 24, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
I remember watching this film in awe and rapture the first time when I was at school, studying Greek mythology. This classic good-defeating-evil story is always a dizzying adventure from start to finish.CLASH OF THE TITANS tells the story of young Perseus (Harry Hamlin - TV's "L.A. Law"), the illegitimate son of the god Zeus (Laurence Olivier). Perseus discovers his ultimate destiny when he is mysteriously transported to the city of Joppa. There, he learns of the fair Princess Andromeda (Judi Bowker), …
review by . April 07, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
CLASH OF THE TITANS is not a film to watch if you want to learn about Greek mythology. The movie (though closer to those tales than Disney's HERCULES) is filled with a hodge-podge of all kinds of Greek myths tied together with a bit of Nordic legend as well. However, this is a film that was made for fun. The cast looks like the had fun making the movie, Ray Harryhausen had to have a ton of fun with all the effects, and the movie is fun to watch.The plot is too convoluted to go into detail. However, …
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About this movie


Clash of the Titans is a 1981 fantasy and mythology movie based on the myth of Perseus. Stop motion animation is used to a large extent in the film to animate the various monsters. The special effects creatures were created by Ray Harryhausen, who retired from filmmaking shortly after the movie was released. Stephen R. Wilk wrote in 2000 that "most people today who are aware of the story of Perseus and Medusa owe their knowledge to the 1981 film Clash of the Titans."

Clash of the Titans was released on June 12, 1981 (Raiders of the Lost Ark was also released on the same date). The movie was a box office hit, grossing $41 million domestically alone, on a $16 million budget. It was the 11th highest grossing film of the year.[

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Director: Desmond Davis
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: June 21, 1981
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Beverley Cross
DVD Release Date: 2001
Runtime: 118 minutes
Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Warner Bros. Pictures
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"Great Fun."
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