Clash of the Titans (1981 film)
|Clash of the Titans|
Movie poster by Brothers Hildebrandt
|Directed by||Desmond Davis|
|Produced by||Ray Harryhausen
Charles H. Schneer
|Written by||Beverley Cross|
|Music by||Laurence Rosenthal|
|Edited by||Timothy Gee|
|Running time||118 minutes|
|Box office||$41 million (North America)|
Clash of the Titans is an 1981 British-American fantasy adventure film involving the Greek hero Perseus, and features the final work of stop motion visual effects artist, Ray Harryhausen. It was released on 12 June 1981 and grossed $41 million at the North American box office, which made it the 11th highest grossing film of the year. A novelization of the film by Alan Dean Foster was published in 1981.
King Acrisius of Argos (Donald Houston) imprisons his daughter Danaë (Vida Taylor), jealous of her beauty. When the god Zeus (Laurence Olivier) impregnates her, Acrisius sends his daughter and his newborn grandson Perseus to sea in a wooden coffin. In retribution, Zeus kills Acrisius and orders Poseidon (Jack Gwillim) to release the last of the Titans, a gigantic sea monster called the Kraken, to destroy Argos. Meanwhile, Danaë and Perseus safely float to the island of Seriphos, where Perseus grows to adulthood.
Calibos (Neil McCarthy), son of the sea goddess Thetis (Maggie Smith), is a young man engaged to marry Princess Andromeda (Judi Bowker), the daughter of Queen Cassiopeia (Siân Phillips) and heir to the rich city of Joppa; but has not only reduced the Wells of the Moons to a near-lifeless swamp, but also hunted and destroyed Zeus's sacred flying horses (excepting only Pegasus). To punish him, Zeus transforms Calibos into a monstrous satyr and he is exiled by his people. In revenge, Thetis transports Perseus (Harry Hamlin) from Seriphos to an abandoned amphitheatre in Joppa, where he is befriended by an elderly poet named Ammon (Burgess Meredith) and learns that Andromeda is under a curse and cannot marry unless her suitor successfully answers a riddle, whose failures are burned at the stake. In order to aid his son, Zeus sends Perseus a god-crafted helmet from Athena (Susan Fleetwood) which makes its wearer invisible, a magical sword from Aphrodite (Ursula Andress), and a shield from Hera (Claire Bloom). Perseus, wearing the helmet, captures Pegasus and follows Andromeda to learn the next riddle. Perseus is nearly killed by Calibos but escapes, losing his helmet in the process. He also manages to sever Calibos' hand.
Perseus presents himself as suitor and correctly answers the riddle, presenting the severed hand of Calibos. Perseus wins Andromeda's hand in marriage. Calibos, finding that Thetis cannot act against Perseus, instead demands that she take vengeance on Joppa. At the wedding, Queen Cassiopeia compares Andromeda's beauty to that of Thetis herself, whereupon Thetis demands Andromeda be sacrificed to the Kraken on pain of Joppa's destruction.
Perseus seeks a way to defeat the Kraken, while Pegasus is captured by Calibos and his men. Zeus commands Athena to give Perseus her owl Bubo; but she orders Hephaestus (Pat Roach) to build a golden replica of Bubo instead, who leads Perseus to the Stygian Witches (Flora Robson, Anna Manahan, and Freda Jackson). By taking their magic eye Perseus forces them to reveal that the only way to defeat the Kraken is by using the head of Medusa the Gorgon, who lives on an island at the edge of the Underworld.
On the Gorgon's island, Perseus fights Medusa's canine guardian, a two-headed dog named Orthrus, who attacks one of Perseus's companions and almost kills him, but Perseus intervenes in the nick of time and kills the beast. Perseus leads his two allies into the Gorgon's Lair, where Medusa is residing. His two other companions die on encounter with Medusa herself; she shoots one of the soldiers with an arrow and turns the other to stone. Perseus uses the reflective underside of his shield to deceive Medusa, decapitates her, and collects her head; but the shield is dissolved by her blood. As Perseus and his party set to return, Calibos enters their camp and punctures the cloak carrying Medusa's head, causing her blood to produce a trio of giant scorpions called Scorpiochs. The scorpions attack and Perseus' friend Thallo is able to kill one of them, but he is killed by Calibos himself. Perseus slays the other two scorpions and thereafter kills Calibos.
Weakened by his struggle, Perseus sends Bubo to bring Pegasus. Perseus reaches the amphitheatre in Joppa, but collapses unconscious from exhaustion. Andromeda is shackled to the sea cliffs outside Joppa, and the Kraken itself is summoned. Bubo diverts the Kraken's attention until Perseus, whose strength was re-restored by Zeus before the Kraken was released, appears on Pegasus. In the subsequent battle, Bubo and Perseus use Medusa's head to turn the Kraken into stone, and free Andromeda.
The gods predict that Perseus and Andromeda will live happily, rule wisely, and produce children, and Zeus forbids the other gods to pursue vengeance against them. The constellations of Perseus, Andromeda, Pegasus, and Cassiopeia are created in honor of their namesakes.
- Harry Hamlin as Perseus
- Judi Bowker as Andromeda
- Burgess Meredith as Ammon
- Maggie Smith as Thetis
- Siân Phillips as Cassiopeia
- Claire Bloom as Hera
- Ursula Andress as Aphrodite
- Laurence Olivier as Zeus
- Pat Roach as Hephaestus
- Susan Fleetwood as Athena
- Tim Pigott-Smith as Thallo
- Jack Gwillim as Poseidon
- Neil McCarthy as Calibos
- Vida Taylor as Danaë
- Flora Robson, Anna Manahan and Freda Jackson as the Stygian Witches
Stephen R. Wilk suggested 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."
Other locations include:
- Cornwall, United Kingdom.
- The Albert R. Broccoli 007 Stage, at Pinewood Studios, United Kingdom.
- Paestum, Italy
Behind the scenes
In 1978, Andor Films submitted a copy of the script to the British Board of Film Classification, seeking advice on how to secure either a "U" or an "A" certificate. The draft script included scenes which the BBFC considered would not be acceptable under those certificates, including the Kraken tearing Pegasus to pieces and Andromeda being naked during the climax of the film. Changes to the script and, on submission, some cuts to Perseus' final battle with Calibos were made and the film secured the "A" certificate: "Those aged 5 and older admitted, but not recommended for children under 14 years of age".
Ray Harryhausen used the special effects technique of stop motion animation to create the various creatures in Clash of the Titans. Harryhausen was also co-producer of the film, and retired from filmmaking shortly after the movie was released, making this his last main feature film. Despite the mechanical owl Bubo's similarities to the droid R2-D2 of the 1977 film Star Wars, Harryhausen claimed that Bubo was created before Star Wars was released. The BBFC, reviewing the film for certification in 1981, said that Harryhausen's effects were well done and would give entertainment to audiences of all ages, but might appear a little "old hat" to those familiar with Star Wars and Superman.
The film's screenwriter, Beverley Cross, was married to Maggie Smith, who played Thetis, until his death in 1998. Cross worked with producer Charles H. Schneer, before, writing the screenplay for Schneer's production of Jason and the Argonauts.
A sequel, Force of the Trojans, detailing Aeneas' mythological journey after the fall of Troy, was proposed to MGM in 1984, but never produced.
Warner Bros., the current rights holder of this film (which sister company Turner Entertainment acquired from MGM as part of their pre-1986 film library in 1986), produced a remake that was released in 3-D on 2 April 2010. Directed by Louis Leterrier, it stars Sam Worthington as Perseus, Alexa Davalos as Andromeda, and Liam Neeson as Zeus.
Starting in 2007, comic publisher Bluewater Productions has released follow-up sequels to Clash of the Titans, authorized by Ray Harryhausen, entitled Wrath of the Titans.
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- Wilk, Stephen R. (June 26, 2000). "Medusa: Solving the Mystery of the Gorgon". p. 209. ISBN 0-195-12431-6.
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- Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton, Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life, page 270 (London: Aurum Press Ltd, 2003) ISBN 1-85410-940-5.
- Ray Harryhausen official website, accessed 2010.8.05
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- "Medusa's Head Hiding Within Perseus' Sack? Three Blind Witches!". Bloody-disgusting.com. October 2, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2009.
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- Official website
- Clash of the Titans at AllMovie
- Clash of the Titans at the Internet Movie Database
- Clash of the Titans at Box Office Mojo
- Clash of the Titans at Rotten Tomatoes