Friday, June 30, 2017

1981 CLASH OF THE TITANS A PRE-PC RAY HARRYHAUSEN GEM

MEDUSA one look kills all living creatures
If you want to take your mind off politics, here is a pre-PC movie with all the zest and lust for life that used to be normal until the PC drones took over our brains.

The first movie my father ever took my brother and I to was a Ray Harryhausen movie called THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD. It was done in something called Dynamation, which was a painstakingly slow process of making model figures move. I have never forgotten that movie, nor the stunning impression it made on me.

What a movie! A voyage into the imagination that is more real than real life, capturing the mythical essence of our experiences, rather than just their physical reality. Children's imaginations are instinctively open to recognizing the deeper truths of symbolic thinking. My father, who was basically an overgrown twelve-year-old, also loved the movie and found it very satisfying.

THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD


Recently, I rented a later Harryhausen film, the 1981 CLASH OF THE TITANS , based on Greek mythology, and rediscovered the genius of Ray Harryhausen. Yes, the monsters and special effects are not computer generated wonders, but in an accompanying interview Harryhausen makes the very interesting observation that he never worried that his creatures looked not quite real, because he believes that what we enjoy about these creatures is that we know they are imaginary. We don't want them to be real. He also believes that movies are fantasies, pure and simple. Brilliant man, brilliant movie maker.


Perseus capturing Pegasus, winged horse, an embodiment
of the wings of man's imagination.
Flights of imagination can take us anywhere
What a joy to spend an evening watching a movie that delights in the powers of human imagination and celebrates what is best in us, our courage, our kindness, our love, and our wisdom, all without ever being condescended to, or preached at, or scorned for our politics.

And I must add that the movie has a stellar cast which includes Laurence Olivier as Zeus, Maggie Smith (You might remember her as Minerva McGonagall in Harry Potter, or Duchess Grantham in Downtown Abbey) as Thetis, Claire Bloom, and Flora Robson. But the man who carries the movie is the immensely talented American actor Burgess Meredith (Mickey Goldmill in all the Rocky movies). His performance is so subtle, but so outstanding that he is irresistible. It is his impish wisdom and rueful poetry of soul that help bring to life the whole marvelous conceit of the film's Greek mythology. 

Netflix has it. Enjoy a truly great film by a master filmmaker. 

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