Saturday, May 31, 2014

Myth Busters: Jason And The Argonauts(1963)

I don't usually buy Blu Rays of movies when I already own the specific movie on DVD but I do make the exception now and then, especially when it's a film I like to watch annually. Jason And The Argonauts(1963) is one such movie. It's a Columbia Pictures action-fantasy film originally theatrically released in 1963, directed by Don Chaffey and produced by Charles Schneer. The movie itself is based on Greek mythology.

In this movie "Jason", a Thessalonian trying to reclaim his rightful crown as king of his country, recruits a group of soldiers and athletes in Greece to embark on a journey to find and bring back a golden ram's head and fleece which Jason believes will bring peace and prosperity back to his home country which has been plagued by famine and civil war. Local shipbuilder "Argo" builds a ship for Jason and soon these men have set sail, the goddess Hera(played by Honor Blackman) literally watching their backs as a wooden figure of the goddess sits on the stern of the vessel. Jason, despite his general disdain for Zeus and the rest of the gods, grudgingly accepts the offer of assistance from Hera...and he'll be glad he did later in the movie.

In their search for the "golden fleece" Jason and his crew of "Argonauts" encounter various spectacular and deadly characters along the way including: a 150 foot tall bronze, sword wielding statue come to life called Talos, two winged, gargoyle like creatures called "harpys", a seven headed, serpentine monster called the "Hydra" and a horde of sword wielding skeletons borne from the slain Hydra's teeth. There's also a scene in which a giant sized Poseidon(god of the sea) appears to help the Argonauts navigate through a bottleneck of dangerous, moving rocks which employs miniatures and trick photography.

To bring all of these fantastic creatures to life in this movie (the late) Ray Harryhausen employs his special "stop motion" effects. Harryhausen's effects can be seen in many other movies but I've always liked them best in Jason And The Argonauts(1963). The Blu Ray of this movie cleans up the film noticeably although in many scenes I couldn't tell much difference between the BD and the DVD. Extras include a trailer, various audio commentaries and a terrific featurette on the influence of Ray Harryhausen on movie special effects. 

For anyone who enjoys the various "Sinbad" films and other sword & sorcery and/or fantasy films I'd recommend Jason And The Argonauts(1963)!

A trailer:
The Sony Home Entertainment Blu Ray release(2010) for sale at Amazon: JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS(1963) Blu Ray