CLASH OF THE TITANS
Sadly, Harryhausens work has not aged well beyond the mid-1970s. The resurgence of fantasy with Star Wars (1977) eclipsed and overshadowed Harryhausen. Clash of the Titans was Harryhausens only attempt to make a film in the post-Star Wars era. Certainly, the influence of Star Wars on Clash of the Titans is undeniable most notably in the character of the mechanical owl Bubo, which has been all but outrightly stolen from R2D2. Clash of the Titans was also the biggest budgeted of Ray Harryhausens films, something that allows him to bring in a name cast from the British film industry to play the immortals although, most of these have more marquee value than they do screen time, with Ursula Andress getting a total of two lines, for example.
Clash of the Titans was a return to the Greek mythological adventure that Harryhausen successfully conducted in Jason and the Argonauts and to such extent, Harryhausen has brought back his Jason scriptwriter Beverly Cross. Clash of the Titans was a modest success when it came out; unfortunately, Harryhausen has not adjusted to the type of filmmaking of the post-Star Wars era. Ray Harryhausens films belong to the type of 1950s historical spectacle that specialised in stagey historical surroundings, stolid actors and characters. The appeal in most of Ray Harryhausens films was the spectacle of his special effects creations. The new era only tended to show up these dramatic deficiencies. The period dialogue is stilted. More importantly, Clash of the Titans is not great Harryhausen. The effects creations are nothing amazing there are no standout sequences such as the skeleton fights in 7th Voyage and Jason, or the Kali duel in Golden Voyage. The one exception is the encounter with the Medusa, which is directed with fine suspense and atmosphere.
On a wider level, Ray Harryhausens special effects have not dated well. There are grainy matte plates and obvious cuts between actor and model, between white horse and stop-motion animated pegasus. This is most obvious in the scenes with the troupe fighting a horde of giant-sized scorpions. The stop-motion animation of the tauntauns and the Imperial Walkers in the previous years The Empire Strikes Back (1980) is far superior to anything Harryhausen conducted here, even though Harryhausen was a thirty year veteran in the field and Industrial light and Magic were the relative newcomers. The same year as Clash of the Titans, ILM also provided the effects for the stunning Dragonslayer (1981) wherein they devised a new form of stop-motion animation called Go-Motion. Ray Harryhausens stop-motion techniques relied on a model making one movement per frame resulting in the characteristic jerky gait familiar to stop-motion animation, whereas Go-Motion had a model making multiple movements per frame resulting in much more fluid form. Although, Clash of the Titans was a much greater success than Dragonslayer at the box-office, Go-Motion paved the way for the future. And, of course, with the arrival of CGI in the 1990s, stop-motion animation became an almost entirely obsolete form of filmmaking. In 1982, Harryhausen announced plans for a new stop-motion animation film called Force of the Trojans but in the end he instead announced his retirement and Clash of the Titans proved to be his last film.
Ray Harryhausens other films are: The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), the granddaddy of all atomic monster films; the giant atomic octopus film It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955); the alien invader film Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers (1956); the alien monster film 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957); The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958); The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960); the Jules Verne adaptation Mysterious Island (1961); the Greek myth adventure Jason and the Argonauts (1963); the H.G. Wells adaptation The First Men in the Moon (1964); the caveman vs dinosaurs epic One Million Years B.C. (1966); the dinosaur film The Valley of Gwangi (1969); and the two Sinbad sequels The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977).