Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ryan Watches a Motion Picture #19: The Clash of the Clash of the Titans, Part 1

Clash of the Titans (1981)

Expecting the 2010 remake to be pretty mediocre, I re-watched the original Clash of the Titans earlier in the day so I could sit in the theatre and hoom and hah to myself and try my hand at something called 'just a position'.

Well, usually referred to as legendary stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen's best film, Clash is a simple but fairly satisfying Hollywood romp of the pedestrianly operatic, effectively campy variety. Director Desmond Davis, who's repertoire consists mostly of British television, hasn't made a great film here, but it has to be said that Clash is certainly endearing. That's likely due to the producing and special effects charm of Ray Harryhausen and his menacing (or plucky) creatures. Laurence Olivier as Zeus doesn't hurt either.

The jewel of the film, I think, is Harryhausen's Medusa sequence. Here we get a fantastically animated, darkly lit Medusa, stalking slowly through a cluttered hall of pillars, picking Perseus' comrades off one by one with haunting stone stares and well-placed arrows. When Perseus is the last alive, his fearful wait before his last-ditch effort plays out slowly, and is earnestly tense. This is indicative of Harryhausen's thoughtful and deliberate style, and that scene is replaced in the remake with a barefaced CGI chase sequence. Ugh.

So: This one has more vitality and character than the remake.

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