Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans

Synopsis of Movie

“Release the Kraken!”

Greek mythology returned to the big screen in 1981’s Clash of the Titans, a bid to lure in the same kids who had sat spellbound through the new mythology of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. An impressive cast of stage and screen legends were assembled for the task—Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Claire Bloom, Jack Gwyllim, Ursula Andress and more—but for most kids in the audience, the real stars of the show weren’t even human. Famed stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen (Jason and the Argonauts, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad) brought his skills to the film as well, delivering unforgettable versions of Medusa, the Kraken, giant scorpions, a two-headed dog and many more.

The film chronicles the heroic journey of Perseus, son of a mortal mother and immortal father—Zeus, chief among the gods on Olympus. The vengeful goddess Thetis, seeing Zeus’ affection for the boy, spirits Perseus away from his peaceful island home to Joppa, where he befriends an aging playwright named Ammon. In Joppa, Perseus also learns of the stunning Princess Andromeda, whom Thetis has cursed. If Perseus (or any other brave suitor) can solve Andromeda’s riddle, the princess will be his. A bad guess, however, means instant death.

In searching for an answer, Perseus comes across the winged horse Pegasus, who becomes another friend and loyal companion. The handsome Perseus does solve Andromeda’s riddle, but Thetis has another foul trick up her billowy sleeve: In thirty days, Andromeda must be sacrificed to the great Kraken, an enormous sea beast, or Joppa will be destroyed. The only way to defeat the Kraken is with the severed head of Medusa, a snake-like Gorgon whose look turns any creature to stone. But a quest to find and retrieve the Gorgon’s head would be nearly as suicidal as taking on the Kraken itself.

Clash of the Titans made the occasional nod to Star Wars, throwing in a cute mechanical owl called Bubo for comic relief, but the focus was fully on grand spectacle, delivered with old-school special effects and classical, mythic storytelling. The film was only modestly received in its time, but an entire generation of fantasy buffs still holds it up as a modern classic, one of the last great examples of pre-computer-age creature cinema.

“Find…and fulfill your destiny!”

Movie Release History

1981 - Clash of the Titans

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Perseus   Harry Hamlin
Andromeda  Judi Bowker
Ammon  Burgess Meredith
Zeus  Laurence Olivier
Hera  Claire Bloom
Thetis   Maggie Smith
Aphrodite   Ursula Andress
Cassiopeia  Sian Phillips
Stygian Witch  Flora Robson
Stygian Witch  Anna Manahan
Stygian Witch  Freda Jackson
Thallo  Tim Pigott-Smith
Calibos  Neil McCarthy
Poseidon  Jack Gwyllim
Athena  Susan Fleetwood
Hephaestus  Pat Roach
Acrisius  Donald Houston
Danae  Vida Taylor
Huntsman  Harry Jones

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