Monday, 22 July 2013
Ray Harryhausen in the UK: Jason and the Argonauts
Continuing my trip through the films which Ray Harryhausen worked on after moving to Britain. This time it is Don Chaffey's 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts, containing what is probably the best-known of all Harryhausen's sequences: the skeleton battle. Thrown in for goo measure are the bronze giant Talos, two harpies and the Hydra.
But while the skeleton scene is justly praised for its technical accomplishment, in terms of effect I'd like to put a word in for the Talos sequence.
I have only dim memories of seeing this film as a child, and recall only the skeletons. But I do have a vivid memory of a dream I once had during my childhood, in which I stepped out of my house and saw an enormous figure, made of gold or bronze, striding across the landscape. Watching Jason and the Argonauts twenty or so years down the line, and seeing the Argonauts menaced by Talos, I suddenly realised what must have inspired that dream...
Finally, here is some of Ray Harryhausen's concept art for the film, as printed in the book Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life. Shown are the Hydra, the harpies, Cerberus (who didn't make it into the film) and a very different visualisation of the undead warriors.