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Clash of the Titans Movie

Updated on September 19, 2012

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You...Again

The movie Clash of the Titans was originally released on June 12, 1981 and quickly became a cult classic. With a handsome hero, a charming mechanical owl, a winged horse, vengeful gods, and gruesome monsters, what's not to like? I did not see the movie in the theater, but I remember watching it over and over on HBO the following summer. I think that is why I developed a visceral fear of scorpions. ::shudder::

Incidentally, does anyone else remember the days when HBO only showed a couple of movies and reran them continuously? Bueller?

I loved Clash of the Titans so when I read recently that a remake was in process, I was excited (and, obviously inspired to write this lens). Production began in late April of 2009 with the US release scheduled for March 26, 2010. I am really looking forward to seeing the new special effects with the technological advances that have been made in film making since 1981.

I will be checking the news for production updates and additional information about the upcoming release. As I find them, I will share them in this lens below.

To keep us entertained while waiting for the release of the new movie, we can learn more about the storyline of the 1981 movie and compare it to the mythology upon which it is based, the story of Perseus and Andromeda.

UPDATE: The release date of the movie has been pushed back to April 2, 2010 to allow for conversion to 3-D

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Storyline - Clash of the Titans Movie (1981)

Spoilers below, don't read if you haven't seen the movie...

The movie opens with a scene showing a group of soldiers carrying a wooden chest toward a beach. A man, obviously the leader, forces a young woman holding a baby into the chest which is then closed and cast into the sea. The man is Acrisius, the king of Argos, the woman is his daughter Danae and the infant is Perseus. Perseus was fathered by Zeus, the king of the gods. Angry because Acrisius has put his son in harm's way, Zeus tells Poseidon, god of the sea, to let loose the Kraken, an ancient sea monster, to raze Argos making "certain that no stone stands and that no creature crawls." With the help of Poseidon (at the request of Zeus), Danae and her son wash up safely on the shores of the island of Seriphos.

Meanwhile, in Phoenicia, the hand of Princess Andromeda, daughter of Queen Cassiopeia, is promised to Calibos, the son of Thetis, goddess of the sea. But, Calibos is a troublemaker and has managed to kill all but one of Zeus' winged horses. The sole survivor is Pegasus. Zeus retaliates by turning Calibos into an unsightly monster who is then banished to the swamps. As a result, Andromeda is left without a suitor and any man wishing to marry her must correctly answer a riddle. Angry with Zeus, Thetis brings Perseus to the city of Joppa (in Phoenicia) so she can interfere with his life (the "you mess with my kid, I'll mess with yours" scenario). While there, he learns of Andromeda's predicament and decides he wants to marry her. Through some machinations and with the assistance of the gods and Pegasus, Perseus obtains the answer to the riddle and in the process, wounds Calibos when they meet in battle.

Later, at the wedding celebration of Andromeda and Perseus, the mother of the bride, Queen Cassiopeia, unwisely states that Andromeda's beauty is equal to that of Thetis. This is a *big* no no. In mythology, the gods are the best and the most beautiful; mortals do not even compare. After Cassiopeia makes this comment, the statue of Thetis falls to pieces. The fallen head comes to life and demands that Andromeda be sacrificed to the Kraken in 30 days. If she is not, the beast will wipe out the city of Joppa.

Wanting to save his bride, Perseus looks for a way to defeat the Kraken. He is told that he will need the head of the Medusa to kill the Kraken. He then travels to where she lives on the Isle of the Dead and kills her by using his shield and takes her head. He travels back to Joppa and wonder of wonders, arrives *just* in time to flash the head which turns the Kraken to stone. Perseus and Andromeda are married and it is assumed they live happily ever after as they fade out to black. The movie closes with the voice of Zeus discussing how he has turned Perseus, Andromeda and Pegasus into constellations so that man will always remember the ancient stories.

The making of the 1981 movie...

One reason that this movie has a cult following is that it was the last film made by stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen. Stop motion animation is done by moving an object slightly in between frames to give the illusion of movement. It tends to have a jerky rather than fluid motion. Claymation features such as Wallace and Grommit are created with stop-motion animation.

In the video linked below, you can see how Calibos, the scorpions and the owl are filmed using stop-motion animation.

In addition to Clash of the Titans, Ray Harryhausen animated The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), One Million Years B.C. (1966) and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973).

Fighting the Scorpions... - ::shudder::

On to the Mythology...

Perseus - The Early Years

Surviving infancy...barely

Acrisius, the king of Argos, had no sons. He consulted the oracle at Delphi for advice and was told that the son of his daughter would kill him. In an effort to prevent this from happening, Acrisius locked his daughter Dana in a chamber to prevent her from becoming pregnant. Zeus, being king of the gods and all, was able to circumvent this and impregnated Dana. Understandably, her father was angry about this, but did not dare risk killing the child of Zeus (again, king of the gods). So, in the grand tradition of abandoning children to the elements (in ancient times, unwanted infants were left at the mercy of the outdoors, to either survive or die according to their destiny; the responsibility for their survival or death was then transferred from the parents to the gods), Acrisius sealed mother and child into a chest which he then cast into the sea. Fortunately for Perseus and his mother, the chest washed up on the shores of the island of Seriphos and they were taken in by a fisherman who then raised Perseus to adulthood.

Perseus Embarks upon a Quest

Polydectes, the King of the island of Seriphos, fell in love with Dana and wanted to get rid of her pesky kid so he held a banquet and required that everyone bring him gifts. Being a poor, fatherless boy, Perseus had nothing to give to Polydectes, but he promised to bring him something (ah, foolish youth). Polydectes requested that Perseus bring him the head of Medusa. Medusa was a Gorgon whose visage was so horrifying that anyone who gazed upon it turned to stone (makes it hard to get dates, I would imagine). There is more to the story of Medusa and how she came to be a Gorgon, but that is a topic for another day (or lens).

Not quite knowing where to begin his quest, Perseus wandered around searching for the Gorgons. Eventually, several of the gods came to his assistance. Hermes gave him a sword, Athena gave him a polished bronze shield and Hades gave him a helmet of invisibility. These items come in handy later when he confronts Medusa. Along the way, nymphs gift him with winged sandals that allow him to fly, which was a good thing, otherwise Perseus might still be out there wandering today. The nymphs then told him to go to the Hesperides to speak to the Hesperidae who told them where the Graeae were (you still with me?). The Graeae, sisters of the Gorgons, were old women with one eye and one tooth among them. By stealing their one eye, he forced them to reveal the location of the Gorgons in order for them to have the eye returned. He entered the cave where the Gorgons were living and conveniently enough, they were sleeping. He used the polished shield to look at Medusa's reflection as he came close to her and was able to lop off her head. In the uproar, her sisters awoke and chased Perseus, but he was able to escape by using the invisibility helmet. See? Handy.

Finding (and Saving) his True Love

As Perseus was returning to Seriphos (by way of his flying sandals) to present the head of Medusa to King Acrisius, he made a stop in the Phoenician kingdom of Ethiopia, which was being terrorized by the sea beast, Cetus. The oracle of Ammon stated that the beast would continue to ravage the coastal cities of Ethiopia unless the king sacrificed his virgin (of course) daughter Andromeda. Perseus, seeing the fair maiden chained to the rocks, about to be devoured by the monster, slew Cetus and saved Andromeda from what was sure to be a horrible death. In reward, he took her hand in marriage (seems fair). Unfortunately, the man to whom she had previously been promised took exception to this turn of events. An argument ensued at the wedding, but Perseus quickly put a stop to it by whipping out the severed head of Medusa thereby turning Phineus into stone.

When Perseus finally returned to Seriphos, he discovered that the king, Polydectes had been harassing his mother so he once again used Medusa's head to turn him to stone. He and Andromeda then lived more or less happily ever after and raised seven sons and one daughter (of course there's more to the story, but this is all that needs to be told for the purpose of relating the story of Perseus to the movie).

Comparing the movie and the myth...

Here are just a few of the discrepancies between the myth and the story told in the movie..

  • The name of the movie itself is a misnomer because there were no Titans in the movie. Medusa and the Kraken were called Titans in the movie, but they are not actually Titans in Greek mythology.
  • In the movie, they do not mention Polydectes, the ruler of Seriphos. In the myth, as mentioned above, Perseus is sent to behead Medusa by Polydectes, himself.
  • The Kraken, the sea monster sent to kill Andromeda, was a monster in Norse (not Greek) legends and was typically depicted as a giant tentacled creature like a squid not a beaked lizard type creature.
  • In the movie, Perseus tames and rides the winged horse Pegasus during his adventures. But in Greek mythology, Pegasus was born of Medusa's blood when Perseus decapitated her with his sword so the timing does not work at all there.
  • Thetis is portrayed as a goddess in the movie, but she is actually a sea nymph in the Greek myths and she was not a character in the mythology of Perseus. Rather, in the Greek stories, she is the mother of Achilles.

There are quite a few more areas in the movie that do not correlate to the mythology so the plot ends up being *very* loosely based on the Greek myth about the hero Perseus.

What Was Your Favorite Scene in the 1981 Version?

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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Very valid, pithy, suctnicc, and on point. WD.

    • EpicFarms profile image


      9 years ago

      Yay! I had absolutely no idea there was going to be a remake (we have the original in our video library). I can't wait to see it :o)

    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 

      9 years ago

      I have never seen the movie but I am going to put it on my to see list. Great info.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image


      9 years ago from Massachusetts

      Probably the Medusa scene where her head gets chopped off and he uses it to turn her to stone. Loved this movie.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      9 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Looks interesting!

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image


      9 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      I have never seen the movie, but you have alot of great information about it here!Pamela

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This isn't my kind of movie but you sure have done a fine job with this lens and I enjoyed reading it.

    • Rich-H profile image


      9 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      I haven't seen the movie, but thank you for this wonderful introduction to it :)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      9 years ago from United States

      I don't remember seeing this movie but your lens makes me want to rent it. Thanks!


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