Cinemas Greatest Scenes Film

Cinemas Greatest Scenes: The Medusa sequence in Clash of the Titans (1981).

To bring any Greek myth fantasy to the big screen can be problematic. Do you stay true to the original sources handed down to us over millennia or do you use your own artistic license to instead create a spectacular story that will appeal to moviegoers? Clash of the Titans released in 1981 in some respects does both, but leans more to Hollywood mythmaking than tackling any real understanding of the Greek gods. Of course, it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a fun-filled story about the heroic adventure of Perseus, the son of Zeus and the array of fantastical creatures that fill its screen from Pegasus, the winged horse to Bubo, a small, gold robot-owl.

In short, Clash of The Titans (1981) definitely has its charm, even if its old-fashioned stop-motion visual effects don’t hold up to the CGI technology of today. Nevertheless, the film is a remarkable, eye opening spectacle, no thanks to the vision of the late great, old school special effects master, Ray Harryhausen.

Interestingly, Clash of the Titans contained some of Harryhausen’s most beloved stop-motion creatures and monsters, among them the truly hideous snake-haired Gorgon called Medusa. (When Harryhausen was once asked if he had a favourite among all his creatures, he said it was definitely Medusa.)

For many fans of the original movie, the sequence where Perseus finds himself at the centre of trouble up against Medusa is one of the real highlights of the film. It is mesmerising and completely inventive, in which Harryhausen leans on all his experience and wizardry, to create a seemingly beautiful balance (by early 80s standards) between the stop-motion model of Medussa with the live-action of Harry Hamlin as Perseus.

But before you take a look at the clip below, here is a quick recap why it is such an important scene. In a nutshell, Perseus is on a mission to save Princess Andromeda, whom he has fallen in love with, from her ugly disfigured fiancé Calobos, the son of the sea goddess Thetis. But more importantly Perseus is also racing against the clock to save Andromeda from the sea-monster known as the Kraken, who seemingly has an appetite for human flesh. But before Perseus can destroy the Kraken, he has to stealthily enter Medusa’s lair and attempt to behead her, so that he can use her dead eyes to petrify the Kraken. This feat alone can only save Andromeda. The challenge, of course, for Perseus is that he must kill Medusa without directly laying eyes on her. It’s a tall order given the fact that she has an uncanny ability to turn her victims into stone with simply just one glance.

And so, how does our hero fare up against Medusa? Let’s find out.

Photo credit: The header image is a scene from the film Clash of the Titans (1981) which is courtesy of MGM. I make use of the image under the rational of fair use. It enables me to makes an important contribution to the readers understanding of the article, which could not practically be communicated by words alone by placing one of the key characters of the film, Medusa into the frame. I am not the uploader of the YouTube clip embedded here.

2 comments on “Cinemas Greatest Scenes: The Medusa sequence in Clash of the Titans (1981).

  1. That is a great scene. And an added bonus was that Harry Hamlin was very easy on the eyes.

  2. This is a great film and a lot of fun. I find it increasingly hard to get past the depiction of Calobos as the stereotypical grotesque Jew as portrayed in anti-Semitic imagery though. It’s kind of like Mickey Rooney in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”: an otherwise fun movie with a very problematic thing in it.

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