Thursday, 15 October 2015

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

"The gods of Greece are cruel! In time, all men shall learn to live without them."

This film looks great with its location filming, is a rollicking adventure story, and has a mostly good cast with Honor Blackman as Hera and an outstanding Patrick Troughton as Phineas, although the casting of a middle-aged and weedy-looking Nigel Green as Hercules is somewhat odd. Still, not many films have a special effects person as executive producer: this film is all about the one and only Ray Harryhausen and his stop motion animation, awesome here as always. Everything else is just window dressing, and rightly so.

So we get, at the climax, both a hydra and a phalanx of skeletons. We get a huge statue coming to life and picking up the Argo. We get two winged harpies. These are what the film is about, and they look amazing, far better than modern CGI. And if the myth is amended a little to accommodate all this, then so be it. This is why the film is worth watching.

I'm also pleased to see the inclusion of the gods at Mount Olympus, though: too many films based on Greek myths omit them. This isn't a film that claims to be more than a simple adventure, but it's a pleasingly accurate portrayal of the spirit of the Greek myths and a highly entertaining way to spend an hour or two.

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