'Clash of the Titans' - The 1981 Film Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'Clash of the Titans' - The 1981 Film

1 Conversation

This kingdom is cursed and the city is in despair, and everyone goes around muttering 'call no man happy who is not dead'.

Clash of the Titans is the last, and perhaps greatest, film made by renowned filmmaker Ray Harryhausen. It is a very loose adaptation of a famous Greek myth and is a perfect fantasy adventure in which a dashing young hero must rescue the beautiful princess he loves, unaware he is a mere pawn in a game of the gods.


A Titan against a Titan!
- Stygian Witch, Clash of the Titans.

Prince Perseus is the sole survivor of Argos, a kingdom that angered Zeus1, king of the gods, and was thus destroyed by an all-powerful creature, a colossal titan called the Kraken. Taken by the goddess Thetis to Joppa, a city besieged by evil Calibos, Perseus falls in love with Princess Andromeda, the woman that Calibos, the son of Thetis, wished to marry. Yet Andromeda is doomed, sentenced to be sacrificed to the Kraken.

Perseus must battle the only creature capable of defeating the Kraken; Medusa the Gorgon. But how can a mortal man survive an encounter with Medusa, a woman who turns all mortals who look upon her to stone?


God or Mortal?CharacterActor
GodsZeus, King of the GodsSir Laurence Olivier
Thetis, Goddess of the SeaDame Maggie Smith
Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and BeautyUrsula Andress
Hera, Queen of the GodsClaire Bloom
Poseidon, God of the SeaJack Gwillim
Athena, Goddess of WisdomSusan Fleetwood
Hephaestus, God of CraftsmanshipPat Roach
MortalsPrince PerseusHarry Hamlin
Princess Andromeda of JoppaJudi Bowker
Ammon, Playwright of JoppaBurgess Meredith
Prince Calibos, son of ThetisNeil McCarthy
Queen Cassiopeia of Joppa Siân Phillips
Thallo, Officer of JoppaTim Pigott-Smith
King Acrisius of ArgosDonald Houston
Princess Danae of Argos Vida Taylor
Stygian WitchesDame Flora Robson
Anna Manahan
Freda Jackson

Most of the gods were played by actors with extensive classical acting experience, including Shakespeare. Oscar-winning Sir Laurence Olivier is perhaps best known for directing and starring in Shakespearean film adaptations Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1955). He had previously starred as Crassus in Spartacus (1960).

Oscar-winning actress (both Best Supporting Actress in 1979 and Best Actress in 1970) Dame Maggie Smith is perhaps best known for costume dramas such as Gosford Park and Downton Abbey, but would return to fantasy in the Harry Potter series (2001-2011). She was married to writer Beverley Cross.

Golden Globe winner Ursula Andress is most famous for being definitive Bond girl Honey Ryder in the first James Bond film, Dr No but also played James Bond 007 in spoof Casino Royale. She is also remembered for being Ayesha, She Who Must Be Obeyed, in Hammer Horror's She. Despite having prominent billing in the film's publicity campaign, Andress only says one line in the film; 'But Zeus transformed himself into a glittering shower of gold and visited her, visited her and loved her.'

Claire Bloom had played Gertrude in the 1980 version of Hamlet would later star as Queen Mary in Oscar-winning film The King's Speech and appear as the mysterious woman who might by the Doctor's mother in Doctor Who episodes 'The End of Time'. Jack Gwillim had been King Laertes in Jason and the Argonauts.

Harry Hamlin has, since appearing in Clash of the Titans, had a solid career in television. Following Clash of the Titans he had a relationship with Ursula Andress, resulting in the birth of a son. Other actors considered for the role included Malcolm McDowell, Michael York, best known for playing D'Artagnan, Richard Chamberlain and even, briefly, Arnold Schwarzenegger, before he became famous. Schwarzenegger was at the time best known as Hercules in New York, though by the time the film was released Conan the Barbarian had made him a star. Schwarzenegger was rejected as Schneer felt, with the exception of Hercules, Greek heroes were athletic but not overly muscular, relying more on cunning than strength. They felt casting a very strong actor would be a cliché, similar to cheesy Italian sword-and-sandals films made in the 50s and 60s.

Other than Hamlin, the other American cast was Burgess Meredith2. He had previously played Penguin in the 1960s Batman television series, and would go on to play the Ancient Elf in Santa Claus: The Movie as well as being in the Rocky film series. Schneer had hoped to cast Sir Peter Ustinov or Sir Michael Hordern, but MGM insisted on an American actor, as otherwise the film might not appeal to an American audience as most of the main roles were played by British actors.

Siân Phillips CBE had played evil, manipulative Empress Livia in 1976's classic television series I, Claudius and would later play strong, evil, manipulative women in Dune and Ewoks: Battle for Endor. Tim Pigott-Smith has had a very strong career playing supporting characters in films. Donald Houston had previously had a supporting role in The 300 Spartans. Flora Robson had starred as Sister Phillipa in the classic 1947 film Black Narcissus. Freda Jackson had previously played a large role in Harryhausen's The Valley of Gwangi. Neil McCarthy is well known for playing Private Thomas in Zulu. Desmond Davis, best known for Girl With Green Eyes (1964), was chosen to direct.

Ray Harryhausen

Harryhausen was the stop-motion animator and film-maker famous for creating memorable creatures seen on screen interacting with real actors. As a child he was inspired by the films of Willis 'Obie' O'Brien, 1925's The Lost World and 1933's King Kong as well as the Oscar-winning British Arabian Nights classic The Thief of Bagdad (1940), directed by Alexander Korda.

The Thief of Bagdad, as well as many films of his own work, would be a vital influence in creating Clash of the Titans. This was also the only film in which he had a team of assistants. Janet Stevens helped sculpt the models. Animation work was assisted by Steve Archer, especially the Vulture sequences, and Jim Danforth, who had animated the dinosaurs for When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, the sequel to Harryhausen's One Million Years BC. Danforth animated the flying Pegasus and Dioskilos sequences.

Charles Schneer

Producer Charles Schneer was the head of Morningside Productions. Schneer gave Harryhausen an almost unprecedented amount of trust and freedom, allowing him to translate his imagination direct to the screen. Schneer and Harryhausen's professional relationship lasted from 1955 to 1981, and their friendship much longer.

Making the Film

Harryhausen first considered adapting the story of Perseus in 1950, when he sketched an outline for a story entitled The Lost City. This would feature Medusa, a cyclops and possibly a centaur, and the plot involved an archaeologist discovering an ancient temple that contained a portal to the underworld. This idea went no further and was never filmed. After making Jason and the Argonauts (1963) he again considered adapting the story of Perseus3 into a film. Sadly, Jason and the Argonauts was only modestly successful on initial release, and so the idea of more films based on Greek myths was quickly dropped. It later became a cult classic.

In 1969 Beverley Cross, who had written Jason and the Argonauts, moved to Skiathos, a Greek island associated with the legend of Perseus. He wrote a film outline called 'Perseus and the Gorgon's Head', an idea which was developed while Harryhausen and Schneer made their last two Sinbad films, with Cross writing the Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger screenplay.

By the time the final Sinbad film had finished production, Cross, Harryhausen and Schneer had turned Cross's outline and Harryhausen's ideas for animation into a screenplay. Columbia Pictures, the film company that had made all-but-one of Harryhausen and Schneer's productions, were uninterested as the project seemed to be too expensive. In order to generate interest from another company, Harryhausen made a bronze sculpture entitled Slaying of Medusa by Perseus, and armed with this as well as the screenplay and storyboard, convinced MGM to make the film. MGM were so excited about the project that they wished to make it on the grandest possible scale, with star names and a $16million budget, far more money than the budgets of the previous 11 films Harryhausen and Schneer had co-created.

Many ancient sites feature in the film. The amphitheatre in Ostia Antica was used as the theatre in Joppa. Many of these historic locations had previously appeared in Jason and the Argonauts and the Sinbad films. For instance the sequence on the Isle of the Dead where Perseus is attacked by Dioskilos was filmed at the temples of Paestum in Italy, and was where Jason met the harpies in the earlier film. Other locations include Guadix, Spain which was the Wells of the Moon, the ancient city of Joppa was in reality a combination of Cospicua Harbour, Fort St Elmo and Fort Rocco along with miniature models. Gozo off Malta was the site of Andromeda's sacrifice. Pinewood Studio's 007 Stage was where the interiors and Calibos' swamp were filmed.

Two painters work, Joseph Michael Gandy's painting Jupiter Pluvius and John Martin's Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still inspired the look of Olympus, which was a beautifully detailed 20-foot long model. The destruction of Argos was created using high-speed photography, and utilised real waves hitting a five-foot tall model of the city.

The film took 18 months of preparation and the Dynamation stop-motion sequences took 16 months to film. It was also by far the longest film Harryhausen made during his career. Harryhausen was highly skilled at moulding textured, anatomically accurate life-like 3-D models of creatures that he wished to animate. These models were built around a metal armature, a skeletal structure that allowed the models to be held in different poses. By moving the model slightly between taking frames of film, the illusion of realistic movement was created. During the animation sequence for the final confrontation with the Kraken, Harryhausen severely bruised one of his fingers, which seriously hindered the animation process.

Creatures Featured

Clash of the Titans features the most stop-motion creatures seen in any Harryhausen film. Harryhausen has always emphatically insisted that the beings that appear in his film are creatures, never monsters. He defines monsters as being evil, malevolent and horrifying, such as Count Dracula. Creatures such as the Kraken or the scorpions are not evil in themselves, merely following their instinct. Yet if any of Harryhausen's creations have earned the appellation 'Monster', then surely it is Calibos. Not for his unfortunate appearance, but for his actions in making Zeus' herd of flying horses all but extinct, terrorising Joppa, haunting Andromeda and ensuring all her suitors are burned at the stake as well as creating the giant scorpions.


A mechanical owl sent by the gods to aid Perseus in his quest. The character of mechanical owl Bubo had appeared in early drafts of the story, and was not included in an attempt to copy Star Wars' success with R2-D2. Bubo appears in the Clash of the Titans remake.


Calibos is dramatically introduced, with a shadowy transformation from man to monster. Half human, he appears twisted and deformed, with a human left leg and goat right leg, a long tail and short horns. He was originally conceived to be mute, but when a re-write gave him dialogue, Neil McCarthy was cast to play him in close-ups, although he is always an animated model in long shots.

The principle model used to create Calibos re-used the armature created for Trog in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Like Calibos, the Cyclops in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad had previously had a horn and hoofed feet.


Charon is the skeletal ferryman who carries men over the River Styx to the Isle of the Dead. Unusually for a Harryhausen film, Charon was not an animated model but a costume worn by an actor. Harryhausen had, however, previously animated skeletons in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts and First Men in the Moon.


Three-headed dog Cerberus featured in early proposals for Jason and the Argonauts, and would have guarded the gates of Hades. During production Harryhausen concluded that three heads would have looked unrealistic and ridiculous, and that two heads would look better and be easier to animate. For Clash of the Titans the idea resurfaced, and so two-headed Dioskolos appears.


The Kraken is a giant mountainous four-armed creature, the Titan who is first seen destroying the city of Argos and later threatens Princess Andromeda. The Kraken was designed to be vaguely humanoid in order to hint at the King Kong/Fay Wray relationship when Andromeda is sacrificed to him. This is why he is kept behind Kong-like gates. He does, of course, have a fishy tail as well as four suckered-arms, intended to re-enforce that the Kraken, like an octopus, is an aquatic animal.

Harryhausen had animated a giant octopus in It Came From Beneath the Sea, as well as a monstrous cephalopod in Mysterious Island.


Harryhausen had first wanted to animate Medusa in 1950, when he worked on a project idea entitled 'The Lost City', inspired by Greek myths. The city of the title would have featured a temple which led to the underworld. Initial proposals for what became Jason and the Argonauts also featured Medusa.

In art, Medusa was often portrayed as a beautiful woman with snakes in her hair, and Medusa had previously appeared in a 1964 Hammer Horror film called The Gorgon which Harryhausen had been disappointed by. Harryhausen chose to take the myth in a new direction by emphasising her reptilian appearance by covering her body with scales, giving her a rattle-snake tail and having her drag herself around on her arms.

The model Medusa had 12 snakes on her head, so for every frame of film in which she appears 12 snake heads, 12 snake tails and the snake on her arm would have to move, in addition to her facial expressions and arm and body movements. Medusa was one of Harryhausen's favourite models, and the sequence he was most proud of. However it was not entirely without precedents, as a snakewoman had appeared in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.


Harryhausen had long wished to animated Pegasus, having been inspired after seeing the flying-horse sequence in The Thief of Bagdad as a child. Despite this, he found it difficult to decide on appropriate wingspan and how to make him fly. After trying various poses, having Pegasus gallop when flapping his wings looked the most convincing.

The models used goatskin from unborn goats to give a realistic appearance and dove feathers were used for the wings, except for the shots where Perseus is seen riding Pegasus from behind, which features real duck wings.


Harryhausen had long wanted to animate scorpions, and so suggested the scorpion sequence. Although he attempted to research scorpion movement, the scorpions he studied were uncooperative, and so he animated the scorpions based on the movement of crabs.

Although three scorpions appear in the film, one is killed by Thallos, one is killed by Perseus, but what happens to the third? It vanishes shortly after killing the random guard. Perhaps it saw the deaths of the other two, realised that attacking swordsmen wasn't worth it, and chose to chase after the fleeing horses instead.


The vulture was originally going to be a bat in Cross's original script, Harryhausen changed it to a vulture to emphasis the presence of decay, death and pestilence over Joppa. The feathers were originally from a crow. This was not the first giant bird Harryhausen had animated, with a Roc appearing in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and a Phororhacos4 in Mysterious Island.

Mix & Match Mythology

Harryhausen's approach to film making was to animate the creatures he wished to, and mix and match mythology for best effect. Although the story of Perseus is inspired from a Greek Myth and set in Phoenicia, the Kraken itself comes from Norse mythology and villain Calibos was inspired by Shakespeare's Caliban from The Tempest.

The goddess Thetis has a much more prominent role in the film than she had in mythology, appearing as the equal of the other gods and goddesses of Olympus. She appears to be a combination of three minor Greek goddesses; Tethys, Sea Goddess and sister and wife of Oceanus, Themis, Goddess of Divine Law and Thetis, one of the fifty sea nymphs and mother of Achilles.

In the film, Medusa was once a beautiful woman who was turned into a snake-headed half-human half-snake creature having been seduced by Poseidon in the temple of Aphrodite. Most classical portrayals of Medusa show her as being a normal woman other than having snakes on her head.

In the legend, Pegasus springs from Medusa's blood. As Pegasus appears earlier in the film than in the legend, this is altered. At the film's climax, Pegasus, who had been knocked out of the sky by the Kraken and believed to be drowned, flies out of the sea from the very spot where Medusa's head enters it when Perseus throws it into the waves.

Following the Greek myth's influence on astronomy, the film ends with shapes of Perseus, Andromeda, Pegasus and Cassiopeia set in the stars, forming constellations.

Common Harryhausen Motifs

As the last film that Harryhausen animated, the film can be seen to contain many motifs previously used in other Harryhausen films. For instance, the face of the Kraken strongly resembles that of the Ymir, the creature from Venus seen in his film 20 Million Miles to Earth. Giant scorpions appear in this film, and large, oversized insects can be seen in his previous films, including a bee and crab in Mysterious Island, a wasp in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger and a giant spider in One Million Years BC.

Another common theme in Harryhausen films is the capture of the creature. Sometimes this is done by lassoes, such as is seen with Joe in Mighty Joe Young and the Allosaurus in The Valley of Gwangi. Other times the creature is captured in nets, such as 20 Million Miles to Earth's Ymir or the Harpies in Jason and the Argonauts. Poor Pegasus is captured by both methods, firstly by Perseus with a rope, secondly by Calibos with a net. Andromeda is carried in a gilded cage by a giant vulture, echoing how the shrunk Princess Parisa is carried in a cage in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, as well as Prince Hazim the baboon in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Gulliver and Elizabeth are caged in a dolls' house in The Three Worlds of Gulliver. Pegasus is also imprisoned in a wooden cage, similar to how the Cyclops imprisons Sinbad in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.

A common plot point in Harryhausen's fantasy films are that the hero's first steps on their voyage is to seek wise guidance. Sinbad sought the Oracle of All Knowledge in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and wise man Mantheus in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Similarly in Clash of the Titans, Perseus first travels to consult the Stygian Witches, three blind cannibals. This is particularly effective as the witches provide a sense of threat, not merely providing plot exposition.

Perseus is aided in his quest by three weapons, a helmet, shield and sword. The shield from Hera provides Perseus with advice, just as did the figurehead of Hera in Jason and the Argonauts. The figurehead talking to Jason scenes in the earlier film are echoed by the statue of Thetis talking to Cassiopeia in Clash of the Titans. The helmet that renders Perseus invisible is similar to the Cloak of Invisibility featured in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. In both films, the man turned invisible is spotted.

Like Zenobia in Sinbad & the Eye of the Tiger who turned herself into a seagull to spy on Sinbad, this film opens with Poseidon disguised as a seagull in order to spy on King Acrisius' treatment of Danae. This is followed by the destruction of Argos by the underwater terror, the Kraken. An underwater terror attacked San Francisco in It Came From Beneath The Sea and an underwater destroyed classical city can be seen in Mysterious Island. Another classical structure being attacked can be seen in 20 Million Miles to Earth where the Ymir attacks the Flavian Amphitheatre, commonly called the Colosseum. In Earth vs the Flying Saucers UFOs attack structures in Washington DC with a classical appearance, including the Cleopatra's Needle-like Washington Monument and the columned Capitol Building.


Clash of the Titans, as Harryhausen's swan song, is a highly polished and well crafted British-American fantasy film. The story is exceptionally tight, with the creatures in this film serving a purpose and accompanied with a sense of menace and tension lacking in other films.

When describing this film, Harryhausen quoted Sam Goldwyn, founder of MGM, the studio who financed this film. Goldwyn's filmmaking philosophy was encapsulated in the words, 'What we want is a story that starts with an earthquake and works its way up to a climax'. This is exactly what the film delivers, with the destruction of Argos proving the threat posed by the Kraken, which returns for the exciting finale.

Dramatic tension is maintained at all times by a variety of means, particularly with the stunning Medusa sequence. Outside Medusa's temple, a snake gets between Perseus and his sword, hinting at what is to come. Her tail is heard. Her menacing shadow is seen. She drags herself around, luring the watcher into a false sense of security, picturing a lumbering menace that is no real threat, yet her arrows pierce the air straight and true. Perseus works to blind Medusa, extinguishing the light of her torches. The peril builds throughout even until Medusa is beheaded, after which with her last movement she scratches her claws into one of the temple's columns, her body, though lacking a head, still emitting an inhuman screech.

It is, of course, possible to ask questions about the sequence. Medusa lives in a well-lit temple with a roaring fire, and enjoys firing arrows at her visitors. How often does Medusa have to go gather firewood, and how much of her spare time does she spend making arrow shafts? Why is it that, immediately after hearing the voice of Zeus advise 'Guard well this shield for one day it will guard your life', Perseus promptly throws it away? Medusa's blood, when spilled, creates maggots that turn into giant scorpions, but why do we not see these in temple in which she is slain? In the film's finale, it is hard not to think that it is a very good job that Perseus holds Medusa's head the right way round, pointing at the Kraken, and doesn't accidentally turn the crowd to stone accidentally. None of these niggling thoughts deducts the drama from an infinitely re-watchable and exciting climactic highlight of fantasy cinema.

Women and Goddesses

Mentioning Medusa automatically leads us to pondering on the role of women in this film. Many of the female characters are labelled. Cassiopeia is described as 'vain', although we do not actually see her exhibit any vanity, merely pride in her daughter on her wedding day. The goddesses are similarly labelled, such as Athena the wise, however the gods are also labelled with job descriptions such as 'Poseidon, God of the Sea'.

In most Harryhausen films, the woman is helpless, in need of rescue and do little except look lovely provide the love interest. Andromeda is a princess in need of rescue, but she is portrayed as brave, willing to accompany her fiancé to the Stygian Witches and even the Isle of the Dead. It is because she refuses to marry Prince Calibos that the city of Joppa is cursed, but the lifting of the curse involves her being willing to agree to marry any man who answers a riddle5 that Calibos sets, effectively her fate is to be freed from one arranged marriage only to be doomed to another. At least Perseus asks her if she wishes to marry him. On her wedding day she is doomed to be sacrificed as a consequence of Thetis' wrath following a casual remark by her mother; Cassiopeia describes Andromeda as being more lovely than the goddess Thetis in Thetis' own temple.

Like flies to wanton boys are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport.
- King Lear

On Olympus, people are merely seen as pieces in the theatre of the gods, just as in Jason and the Argonauts they were pawns on a chessboard. Prince Calibos is punished for hunting and killing everything, including the sacred herd of flying horses, in his kingdom, named the Wells of the Moon. In his rage, Zeus transforms Calibos into an abhorrent creature. An effective use of animated shadow portrays the character's suffering.

Danae, Perseus' mother, is seen as a helpless victim, locked in a coffin and all-but buried at sea before being rescued by Poseidon. Soon after, Perseus informs Ammon that she is dead, with no explanation on how she died or grief displayed. Coming so soon after Zeus kills King Acrisius and the entire city of Argos for his jealous neglect of his daughter, this oversight seems a little out of place. Medusa, too, is a victim. The god Poseidon had seduced her in the temple of Aphrodite, and the goddess transformed her into a Gorgon. Now Perseus comes to kill her to save his love from the vengeance demanded by the goddess Thetis. Medusa's life is dominated by being the plaything of the gods.

In many ways, women are shown as the ones with power. The soldiers who accompany Perseus to find Pegasus obey Andromeda's commands, not his. Joppa is ruled by a queen. There is no way to defeat the Kraken known to man, yet a way is known by woman - and only a woman, Medusa, can defeat him.

Even Zeus, king of the gods and ruler of the heavens, seems to be intimidated by women in this film. In order to pluck up the courage to get dates he goes to the trouble of transforming himself into countless disguises, such as a bull, shower of gold or, in his failed attempt to seduce Thetis, a cuttlefish. Thetis relates with great joy that she defeated him by transforming herself into a shark. Of all the gods, it is often Thetis who seems to have the most power. She makes sure no-one marries Andromeda and moves Perseus to Joppa. She sentences Andromeda to death for her mother's actions. She dictates the conditions, that the Princess has a month to wait before her sacrifice, and what is more she must be a virgin or the city of Joppa will be destroyed.


Laurence Rosenthal composed the music which was recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra. A 14-track LP was released in 1981, and more recently a double-CD set of the soundtrack has become available. The soundtrack has an uplifting, triumphant quality that perfectly matches the film's themes.

Novelisation and Look-In Film Special

Look-In Film Special

The Look-In Film Special was, in the words printed on the front cover, 'the official illustrated adaptation of the epic film of the year!' Published by ITV Books, it was a comic strip adaptation of the film by Mary Carey and Dan Spiegle. Although it follows the plot of the film closely, there are differences.

Firstly, many of the characters in the comic look nothing like their film counterparts, probably as a result of the comic being made before the film was cast rather than poor artwork. Particularly affected are the drawings featuring the Kraken. The Kraken is kept behind a pair of giant gates just like Kong in King Kong, rather than the raising portcullis. The Kraken only has two arms and knocks Perseus off Pegasus with his fin, rather than a hand as seen in the film. His face looks more like a coconut than Harryhausen's Kraken, which probably explains why it is only visible twice in the comic, and in all other scenes containing the Kraken, his head is hidden under water.

There are a few other minor differences too. The vulture carries Andromeda's cage in its beak rather than its claws. There are only two giant scorpions, rather than three (and we don't see either of them killed, but two do appear to be dead). Perseus also uses Medusa's head not only to kill the Kraken, but also to destroy Charon, the boatman across the River Styx, as he has not brought enough change for a return ticket.

Perhaps the biggest difference can be seen in the Medusa sequence. Rather than appear naked as she does in the film, Medusa sports an off-the-shoulder toga-like diaphanous dress. We see Medusa dip her arrows into her skin, covering them in her blood to make them poisonous, which renders them extremely acidic, another detail that does not appear in the film. Perseus finally kills her by throwing a shield like a discus at her, with this over-sized frisbee resulting in her decapitation, rather than chopping her head off with his divine sword as he does in the film. All three details, Medusa's dress, blood-dipped arrows and discus decapitation do not appear in the finished film, yet all appeared in early storyboards. There is also a resemblance between the quickly-sketched storyboard appearance of the Kraken and the appearance of the Look In Film Special, all of which suggests that the special was based on the storyboard of the film, rather than a finished version of the film itself.


The novelisation was by Alan Dean Foster. He has novelised numerous films including for Alien and was ghost-writer for the Star Wars (Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope) novelisation, which was credited to George Lucas. He contributed towards the Star Trek: The Motion Picture screenplay and novelised the recent 2009 Star Trek film.

Like the Look-In Film Special, his novelisation has Medusa wearing 'a wrap of opaque cloth', dragging arrows across her skin to cover them in her deadly blood and finally being decapitated by a thrown shield. The Kraken's description does not quite match his appearance in the film, described as having 'a pair of arms and, below them, a pair of cephalopodian tentacles lined with rasp-edged suckers', rather than four sucker-lined arms. However, three scorpions appear, and all are killed.

The novelisation gives background characters, such as Ammon, a larger role. It also supplies background details missing in the film and answers questions that the film does not address. Perseus returns from the Isle of the Dead in this book by swimming across the River Styx, as it is revealed that Charon only carries passengers one way. In the film Aphrodite, goddess of love, is shown as being pleased when it is expressed between a god and mortal, such as Zeus and Danae. The novelisation reveals the reason why she was so jealous of Medusa copulating with Poseidon that she turned her into a monstrosity; Ammon informs us that Medusa mocked Aphrodite during the act.

Aftermath and Legacy

Following the film, Schneer and Harryhausen began work preparing to make both a new Sinbad film as well as a similar Greek myth film to Clash of the Titans. This Greek film, Force of the Trojans, was inspired by the story of the founding of Rome by exiles from the fall of Troy, especially Virgil's Aeneid. A script was written by Beverley Cross and would have featured Harryhausen animating the flight of Daedalus and Icarus, several Cyclops, furies, the sphinx, the evil goddess Hecate and Scylla and Charybdis. Sadly there was no interest from major film companies, despite the spate of 'Sword and Sorcery' films made in the 1980s following the success of films made following Conan the Barbarian, animated by Harryhausen's assistant Jim Danforth.

Since then, Clash of the Titans has been considered a cult classic, so much so that in 2010 it became the first Harryhausen film to be officially remade6, even featuring an original Bubo model.

1Not because of the tiny pens that never work found in the catalogue shop of the same name.2Meredith would reprise the role of explaining to the hero, who has just awoken somewhere other than where he fell asleep, where he is and what his destiny is, when cast as the Ancient Elf in Santa Claus: The Movie.3Although Harryhausen relates how, in America in the later 1950s and early 1960s, the name 'Percy', which sounds like 'Perseus', was used as a common derogatory term. Film studios would therefore have required the hero to have a name change!4A ferocious prehistoric flightless avian predator of South America.5Thallo tells Perseus that only the suitors know the riddle that Andromeda asks, yet Andromeda demands Perseus answer it in front of the very crowded temple.6That said, the Godzilla films are a remake of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1952), When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970) was a remake of One Million Years BC (1966), although that was a remake of One Million BC (1940) and the 2009 television mini-series Mysterious Island, starring Patrick Stewart and Kyle MacLachlan and featuring giant animals, owed more to Harryhausen's Mysterious Island (1961) than Jules Verne's novel.

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