I’d like to watch one of my all-time favorite movies today–Jason and the Argonauts (1963), featuring two of the most extraordinary special effects scenes ever created: the skeletons’ attack, and the colossal statue of Talos coming to life. These were the work of the late Ray Harryhausen: and although most of our current special effects tools and techniques were not available to him in 1963… he didn’t need ’em!
So here is a bit of the skeletons’ attack. The whole movie’s available on YouTube, in case you want to join me in watching it. If you’ve never seen it before, you’ll be astounded by what could be done, back then, without computers.
Hey, you might even get a little bit scared, for a minute or two! But don’t worry: this kind of scare only lasts a few minutes, and then you can have a laugh about it. Really, it’s a form of sanity medicine.
One way to get your ship through the Clashing Rocks…
You do wonder about some of the things that go on in Greek mythology.
Jason and the Argonauts have to get through the Clashing Rocks that guard the Bosporus, without the ship getting cracked like a nutshell. In the Ray Harryhausen movie, this giant merman-thing (pictured above) comes up and holds the rocks apart for them. In other versions of the story, this doesn’t happen. Instead, for instance, they send a dove through the rocks and, after they move apart again after squashing the poor bird, the Argonauts are able to row real fast and get through, with only the Argo’s stern ornament bitten off.
Uh, guys… why didn’t you beach the Argo and haul it overland on rollers, as ancient sailors often did with their ships, and put it back in the water when you’d passed by the Clashing Rocks? No one seems to have thought of that. One is reminded of Laurel and Hardy in The Music Box, lugging the piano up those horribly steep stairs when they could’ve just carted it around the block to the front door. Duh…
Oddly enough, in later centuries, Greek and Roman ships routinely passed through the strait without seeing hide nor hair of the Clashing Rocks. The myth says that after Jason got through, the rocks didn’t clash together anymore. Perhaps their failure to crush the Argo made them give it up. Who knew great big rocks can get down-hearted?
Ah, well, they don’t call it mythology for nothing.