CLASH OF THE TITANS is the last film done by Ray Harryhausen, a specialist in stop-action animation.
At its heart, it is a love story, that of Perseus and Andromeda. Perseus, the son of Zeus, is stranded at sea soon after birth with his mother, banished there by his grandfather in order to restore honor to the family name. (Perseus' mother was thought to have gotten pregnant out of wedlock, which explains why her father got his nose out of joint about her pregnancy, given the cultural conditions in force at the time.) Zeus, Perseus' real father (according to Greek mythology), sees to it that his son is washed ashore on the island of Seriphos.
Meanwhile, Andromeda, the daughter of Cassiopeia, is groomed for marriage to Caliphos, the son of the Greek Thetis. That is, she was slated for marriage to Caliphos until something happens. Since this something is deemed by Zeus himself to be the fault of someone associated with this particular Greek goddess, Caliphos is punished by disfigurement and banishment. In turn, his mother punishes Andromeda by seeing to it that no other man is suitable for Andromeda. To that end, she has Caliphos, her son, pose periodic questions, in the form of riddles, to the populace. Any man who dares answer is graded on the correctness of his answer. If he is incorrect - and most men are - he is burned at the stake. Perseus comes into Joppa, Andromeda's hometown, just at the end of one such burning, or bonfire, as Andromeda calls them later in the film.
Eventually, Perseus himself becomes Andromeda's successful suitor by answering one of Caliphos' riddles correctly, complete with the requisite part of Caliphos' body to prove that he, Perseus, is right. However, right in the middle of their first attempt at a wedding ceremony, Cassiopeia puts her foot in her mouth by daring to place her daughter above the goddess who patrons her and her town. (In addition, Thetis finally is persuaded by her son to punish Perseus for his disfigurement of Caliphos.) Andromeda is scheduled to die at the hands of the Kraaken within thirty days unless a miracle occurs, and until that time, she is to remain a virgin (that is to say, even if the ceremony were completed, Perseus and Andromeda could not consummate their marriage until after the Kraaken had done his dirty work).
I won't say just what happens during the rest of the movie. Suffice it to say that Andromeda survives and marries Perseus.
Stop-action animation, the principal form of animation used in CLASH OF THE TITANS, is accomplished by moving each character in the scene being filmed by infinitesmal amounts. It can take months to film a minute or two of a movie animated like the ones Harryhausen used to do, CLASH OF THE TITANS included. By the time this film was done, this type of special effects animation was dated, and in this film, it shows - I was distracted by the animation, quite frankly. In addition, while viewing the DVD version of this film, I noted that at certain points, the soundtrack was also a distraction. When the music should have swelled joyously, it turned into a parody of itself by sounding playful, like a child skipping down a street.
Otherwise, it is a good adaptation of the legend of Perseus and Andromeda. However, I must warn parents out there that if they end up checking this out of a public library, it might not be suitable for children under about the age of 8 due to all the scary monsters which show up (like the scorpions or Medusa or the Kraaken). There is also one brief nude scene in the beginning of the film, in which Danae is seen nursing young Perseus. Although there is nothing sexual about the scene, don't show this movie to a very young child if you don't want them viewing nudity at all.
CLASH OF THE TITANS is also a must-view for those who are interested in the history of animation, primarily due to Harryhausen's role in its creation.
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