Jason And The Argonauts Review

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To regain his rightful place on the throne of Thessaly, Jason must cross perilous seas to the land of Colchis to retrieve the fabled Golden Fleece. Along the Jason and his crew of legendary heroes must contend with harpies, crashing rocks, a giant bronze colossus, a multi-headed hydra and an army of skeleton warriors.


It may surprise you to find that Ray Harryhausen did not, officially, direct this, the film for he is most venerated. To be fair, he was in charge of those sequences for which it is best remembered — the staggering stop-motion battles between actors and model creatures resplendently carved from legend. Don Chaffey was in charge of the real life bit that is big and cheesy and forgettable. It takes a skeleton army, with those stiff jointed moves like an aged drunk at closing time, to lift a B-movie like this into the pantheon.

Indeed, it is easy to see how this has become the ne plus ultra of the Harryhausen canon. This is the point where he perfected the intricate devices of stop-motion, plucking an appropriate quest-story out of the fertile lengths of Greek myth with its attendant menagerie of beasties. Here is the many-headed hydra who upon losing a head simply grows another. Here is a giant bronze statue named Talos, irritated by an arrogant Hercules (Nigel Green), who storms their ship, the Argonaut. And here is the fabled clash with those skeletons. Each amazing for how much personality Harryhausen instils into their model faces furious with intent.

Back in the human half of the movie, the range of British and American hunks all basted to a vaguely Hellenic tan, are suitably gruff if rather stiff. Then, this is not a film watched for its acute study of humanity, nor for its meta-textual meaning, although Honor Blackman has a deal of fun as the goddess Hera playing the Olympian angle as she flowers unsubtle hints on her dumbfounded hero, and there is a sly discussion of the overweening self-regard of fame. In the end, though, it’s a straight-up creature-feature, a classic of the breed, that will resist repeat viewing till the Harpies come home.

For sheer old-fashioned, childhood rekindling adventure you really can't go past it - just don't take the rose-tinted glasses off.