Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Jason and the Argonauts - 1963

One of the films of my childhood days that id obsessively watch with intrigue would have to be this, a tale of bravery and monsters with powerful Gods galore. Jason and the Argonauts is set in the lands of ancient Greece, where mythology and worship was a way of life, enforcing every move society took. The plot for Jason is to find the famed "Golden Fleece" and return it to his countrymen to restore peace and confidity to his land. As Jason is prophesised to become King of his country, Thessaly, he bids himself to this journey to proove himself as worthy to the throne, also beleiving this fleece is the key to his succession of power.


All is not easy however, as there are barriers in the way trying to stop him from completing his challenge. From the competitive nature of another King willing his death, to the plentiful monsters that intrude the journey, Jason is never short of a story.

The camera work used within the film provokes power and understanding of the culture of the time, and also strongly enhances the visual effects used. On a stronger note about the visuals; there are brilliant scenes of animation used where models "interact" with the actors of the film. The man in charge of the visual effects within this film is none other than the master Ray Harryhausen, an animator who primarily worked in the art of stop motion animation. Obviously, the actors are acting to thin air, and to the modern eye this can be easily seen because of our attention to realism and detail. However, for the time this was state of the art, bringing some of the most lengthly of techniques to provide the audience with pleasure. There are scenes where the camera provides the effect, for example the scene where Nepture rises from the waters, this is obviously a set which proportionally is the same scale to the male actor playing Neptune. The most impressive of visuals however would have to be the animated Skeleton fight towards the end of the movie. In this we see Jason and two of his men fighting off "living" skeletons brilliantly animated by the great Ray Harryhausen.

You can clearly see how some of the effects used within this movie directed ideas towards future movies within the stop motion era, through tedious hardwork and creative ideas that eventually pay off in an expressionate display of visuals for generatons to come.

Overal, brilliant film!

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