Clash of the Titans (1981)
A Film Worthy Of The Gods!
"By order of the gods, I crescent thine film worthy of it's time." The original "Clash of the Titans" may not have the modern CGI of it's remake, but it enriching story entrenched in Greek mythology more than makes up for it. However, like it's modern remake, the special effects are very well done, as each mythical creature is very well designed and flow seamlessly with the live action characters. Which is even more remarkable considering the special effects were all done using claymation to make up the mythological creatures like the Kraken, Calibos, Pegasus, and many others. Although the film is a bit dated by today's standards, "Clash of the Titans" is truly a unique and remarkable story for it's genre.
The story is essentially about a young man Perseus (Harry Hamlin), who happens to be the favored son of Zeus, ruler of all gods in Olympus. Perseus along with his mother, Danae (Vida Taylor), were cast out to sea by his grandfather, Acrisius (Donald Houston), over a prophecy that his grandson would grow up someday to kill him. Therefore, Perseus' mother was locked up in a tower where no mortal man could reach her. Unluckily for Acrisius, he never factored in the presence of a god getting to her, as she bears Zeus' child. Needless to say, Acrisius banishes and forces his daughter into a coffin to float out to sea, in fear of the prophecy fulfilling itself. This of course angers Zeus as he asks Poseidon (Jack Gwillim), god of the sea, to make sure the sea floated the coffin to Seriphos, where Perseus grows up. Unfortunately, the rest of the kingdom of Argos was destroyed for Acrisius cowardly act.
Years later, Perseus grows up peacefully blessed by the gods themselves without a care in the world. Unfortunately for him, the goddess Thetis (Maggie Smith) grows bitter towards him and jealous, as she's forced to watch Zeus punish her own son, Calibos (Neil McCarthy). For you see, Calibos was given every single advantage by the gods, but he has mocked them by killing many of Zeus' mythological creatures he left upon the Earth, like the Pegasus (Winged Horse). Thus, forcing Zeus' hands as he deforms Calibos into a demonic creature, and ruining his engagement with the lovely princess Andromeda (Judi Bowker). Therefore, in light of Zeus' cruel punishment, Thetis transports Perseus into the city of Japa one night, to spite Zeus for his vicious act against her son. This angers Zeus again but rather than arrange to transport him back, he orders to have the gods bless him with mythological weaponry for protection in this strange land. Such weapons like a sword that could cut through anything, a helmet that grants invisibility, and a shield that is said to be destined to save his life someday.
As luck would have it, Perseus meets and falls in love with the princess, but Thetis and Calibos refuse to allow anyone else to have her. Calibos puts an evil spell on the princess, that would not allow any other man to marry her. However, when Perseus breaks the spell, Thetis takes matters into her own hands and threatens the people of Japa by telling them that they must sacrifice the princess, or suffer the vicious wrath of the last titan known only as the Kraken. Needless to say, Perseus sets out on a journey with a band of warriors along with the princess herself to find a way to destroy the Kraken and restore peace in Japa. Facing many obstacles along the way and many mythological creatures like Medusa and giant scorpions. All in the pursuit of rescuing his beloved princess Andromeda.
Now before I go any further, I do think the special effects are definitely well done. Definitely way ahead of it's time, as the claymation mythological creatures flowed seamlessly with the actors. Making it that much more amazing was that the use of CGI wasn't used at all. Sure, there were certain scenes where one could obviously tell the claymation Calibos wasn't the actor Neil McCarthy, but it was certainly advanced for the time.
As for the story, I will admit it was a tad cliched and some of the acting from Harry Hamlin and Judi Bowker seemed a bit dry for my taste. However, it did have it's own unique charm to it. Telling a story of magic and adventure while entrenched in mythological lore. Plus, I loved how Laurence Olivier and the rest of the actors managed to convey the gods of Olympus with such larger than life personalities, yet make them seem grounded in their own petty needs and jealousies.
Even legendary actor, Burgess Meredith (Ammon), does a wonderful job in this movie playing as Perseus' unofficial adviser if you will. That helps guide Perseus in his long and tiring quest to save the city of Japa and his beloved.
Overall, the original "Clash of the Titans" is definitely a must see for any true fantasy epic fan out there. As it has all the qualities that make a great movie, you have romance, action, drama, violence, great special effects, and solid performance from most of the cast. What more could you ask for? It's easy to see why "Clash of the Titans (1981)" continues to reign as a fantasy masterpiece for the ages.