Best And Worst Greek Myths On Screen

With Wrath Of The Titans shortly to be unleashed in cinemas, Jayne Nelson takes a look at some of the best – and worst – examples of Greek mythology to hit both small and big screens…

Clash Of The Titans (1981) Clash Of The Titans (2010)

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Giant scorpions! Pegasus! The Kraken! Andromeda in the nuddy! Anybody who was a fan of fantasy cinema in 1981 has fond memories of the original Clash Of The Titans , and generations since have come to love its stop-motion charms (not that Andromeda in the nuddy was stop-motion, we hasten to add).

Although some of the FX haven’t aged as well as they could have done – particularly the giant scorpion fight, the filming of which was hampered by bad weather, making it look dark and dingy – the ’80s Titans still has an ace up its sleeve: Medusa. For kids of the era she was a monster as terrifying as anything CGI can conjure today, dragging her giant snake body around by her hands, rattling her rattlesnake tail, her hair hissing and pulsating… The work that went into her is astonishing: every time Ray Harryhausen filmed a frame he had to move every one of the 12 snakes on her head (24 movements, heads and tails) as well as the rest of her. The sequence is still chilling 30 years on.

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As for the remake, however… well, we’ll allow the fact that the scorpions look better in CGI, the Kraken is pretty cool, and Liam Neeson yelling “Release the Kraken!” is pretty damn iconic right there. But something’s been lost in translation; the original Clash revelled in the chance to bring Greek myths and monsters to life, while the remake seems to be screaming, “We’ve spent a ton of money on this, flock to your local cinema to pay us back!” Or perhaps we’re being churlish.

Either way, check out this handy mash-up between the old Medusa and the new one . Which is your favourite?

Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief (2010)

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The popular Percy Jackson book series by Rick Riordan does its damnedest to teach modern children the joys of all things ancient and Greek by updating the myths and legends to the present day. For which we say, “Well done!” Sure, there are quibbles here and there as the odd myth is fiddled with, but for sheer energy and enthusiasm they can’t really be beaten.

The first film (the sequel, Percy Jackson And The Sea Of Monsters , comes out in March next year) has young Percy (Logan Lerman) discovering he’s the son of Poseidon. Before he can say “Bzuh?” he’s accused of stealing Zeus’s lightning bolts and off he goes on a quest to recover them – a quest that takes him everywhere from Las Vegas (in which there’s a very clever play on the Lotus-Eaters) to Hades, ruled by none other than Steve Coogan in rock-star mode.

It’s all fairly standard adventuring that’s lifted by two great scenes: a fire-spewing Hydra and Uma Thurman’s slinky, sexy Medusa. “Son of Poseidon? I used to date your daddy,” she drawls in a smoky voice – a far cry from Titans’ tail-wagging serpent.

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