Sunday, August 11, 2002

We were watching Jason and The Argonauts tonight, and I was struck, as always, by the Harryhausen stop-motion effects.

Jason and the Argonauts is great. Everyone remembers the Hydra, and the skeletons, with their cruel grins, coming after Jason and his pals as they try to fleece the enemy kingdom. I thought, watching this again after so many years, that the effects would look cheesy and dated, but they look just as magical as when I was a kid watching TV on a Saturday morning (except for the big Triton guy holding back the Clashing Rocks...that was a little cheesy). Perhaps there is more humanity in these physical models than in the high-tech CGI effects we have now. I was thinking about that while watching Lord of the Rings for the fourth time last night. I love Lord of the Rings. It's a great movie, better than I could ever have expected, but is there a coldness to the effects? A loss of that human element?

On the Jason and the Argonauts DVD, there was a segment with John Landis interviewing Harryhausen about his creations, and Landis mentioned how the monsters are imbued with personality. And it's true. Each skeleton has an expression, ungainly as the jumpy process may seem. Jason is nowhere near the heads of the Hydra when he swings his sword, but when the process works, you feel a real appreciation for the craft of Harryhausen.

Anyway, go watch Jason and The Argonauts. Be a kid again, for an hour and a half.


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