Monday, 14 February 2011

Myth versus Movie

Recently watched the remake of Clash of the Titans and learned that it's getting a sequel because apparently despite all the criticism it made a lot of money. Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Gemma Arterton all have been confirmed to return and there have been mentions of a son of Poseidon, Ares, Hephaestus and Andromeda all appearing in it. Current working title is Wrath of the Titans if you want to hunt for more information.

I do like this movie, the graphics are impressive, I adore Liam Cunningham as Solon, he really is the humour for the movie, and Elizabeth McGovern and the late, great Pete Postlethwaite are great additions. Despite all this the movie is heavily flawed, completely inaccurate and not as good as the original. I have them both on dvd however so I don't have to choose, I can enjoy both.

Now whilst I understand that this is their own interpretation of Greek myths and that the original lacked accuracy too and the brilliant t.v series Hercules and Xena also lack accuracy in several episodes and yet manage to remain fantastic, it still bugs me with Clash of the Titans. I mean with Xena and Hercules you have all the mythical heroes appearing in one episode or several when they some of them did not exist in the same time period, you have Julius Caesar coming along a few series after Helen of Troy when they were hundreds of years apart, but ignoring the timeline was and is the only way to include all these great characters and stories and I love that Xena and Hercules did this. In this case screw accuracy, I mean the heroes and gods were myths so timelines can be ignored and I'd loved seeing Xena/Hercules bringing them into their stories with an easygoing flow.

Clash of the Titans just has too many inaccuracies to be ignored, Io and Hades being the worst to me. Io was not a woman cursed with agelessness, she was a priestess of Hera/ nymph who Zeus fell for and turned into a cow to keep Hera was discovering her. The wise Hera demanded the cow as a gift and had the many eyed Argus guard the cow but Zeus had Hermes slay Argus and Io went free. Hera, still angry, had her plagued by a gladfly until she reached Egypt where she became human again and birthed Zeus' children. According to a timeline offered on Wikipedia she also came several generations before Perseus.

Gemma Arterton's Io is a pointless female lead/love interest there to replace Andromeda who exists in the remake as a beautiful, strong and brave but rarely seen princess. Perhaps Io was created because Andromeda noteably does not go with Perseus adventuring for the Stygian witches and then Medusa, because she is busy in her kingdom waiting to be sacrificed to the Kraken by the mad Argos people to save Argos. In the original version of Clash of the Titans Andromeda is present for most of the movie as Perseus' quest is to solve a riddle so that she may be free to wed, this involves following her spirit on a visit to Calibos, the villain of the movie, where she hears a new riddle from him every night for would be suitors. Not mythical accurate but entertaining and a good way for us to see more of Andromeda as well as experience a villain other than Medusa and Cetus who are killed quickly.

The remake makes Calibos' Perseus' stepfather Acrisius in a cursed form of a half-burned man given powers by Hades, rather than a satyr liked fiance of Andromeda's cursed by Zeus. I like both versions and it was interesting to see Acrisius portrayed as a vengeful madman, though in the myth Perseus killed Acrisius with a quoits or discus unintentionally.

I read on wikipedia the alternate ending of the remake did have Perseus ending up with Andromeda which would have been much more preferable and accurate but I guess they changed their mind because there was so much implied chemistry with Perseus and Io and Io was in the movie more, though truthfully she seemed more like a mother figure at the start as his guardian who always watched him. To me Andromeda is a much stronger character, she is wise, charitable, caring and not afraid to scorn her own parents. Unlike her mother she does not offer foolish challenges to the gods but because it is she who is compared to Aphrodite it is she who Hades curses to be killed by the kraken.

Thus we come to Hades, a god tragically portrayed inaccurately so many times now that it grows stale. Hades is the villain in several movies now despite never being evil in any of the original stories or myths, cold and pitiless at times but not directly evil, a role better served for Hera or Ares. Ralph Fiennes is just portraying Voldemort here and it gets old fast, even if Hades had to be a villain he didn't have to be a Voldemort villain, it makes Ralph Fiennes seem like he is only capable of doing villains one way, which I'm sure he's not. Hades really was a wasted character there because they were too lazy to bother breaking away from popular misconception.

In the original movie the immortal villain is the sea goddess, beautifully portrayed by Maggie Smith, as the vengeful mother of Calibos, who demands Andromeda be sacrificed to the Kraken.

The original movie also depicts the gods better, in the remake you get a vision of them all wearing shiny Saint Seiya styled armour and it's hard to tell who's who, only Apollo is named and apart from Zeus and Hades, only he and Hermes get lines from what I remember, if only briefly. In the original we have Zeus, Hera, Thetis, Aphrodite, Athena and Hephaestus all named and present.

I could continue ranting on with comparisons and inaccuracies but I think I have ranted enough and truthfully I do like them both despite the flaws and I'm looking forward to the latest mythologically related movie The Immortals even though it promises to be full of flaws, this one seems to be focusing on Theseus.

Also, random tidbit, the original sea monster that plagues Ethiopia (this is Andromeda's home, which is given as Joppa in the original movie) is called Cetus and is sent by Poseidon because Queen Cassiopeia who said she was as beautiful as the Nereids, Poseidon's sea nymph companions, the fifty daughters of Nereus and Doris. The Kraken was a Scandinavian monster depicted as being like a many tentacled giant squid or octopus of impossible size that destroyed ships.
Also, Perseus never rode Pegasus, he instead flew with Hermes' winged sandals, however he did help create Pegasus as Pegasus (and his humane brother Chrysaor) sprung from his mother Medusa when Perseus beheaded her. It was the hero Bellerophon who caught Pegasus, with Athena's help, and rode him whilst he fought and eventually slayed the Chimerea.

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