Long before the days of computers and green screens, when special effects had to be achieved using superimposed images, stop-motion models, and colour-changing imagery, I went to see an exciting new epic at the cinema. I was 11 years old at the time, and my parents promised me that I would enjoy the film they were taking me to see.
And they were right.
I didn’t care that some of the lead actors were dubbed into English. I wasn’t in the least bothered by the fact that no big Hollywood stars were on screen, though of course recognised some well-known British faces, like Honor Blackman, Nigel Green, and Patrick Troughton. This was the cinema experience at its best. Vivid colours, beautiful blue skies, legendary Gods and monsters, and wonderful music from Bernard Hermann filling the auditorium.
The story is a version of the search for the Golden Fleece, familiar from Greek Mythology. Jason is transported to Mount Olympus, and given an audience with the gods of Ancient Greece. He is commanded by Hera to find the Golden Fleece, and she tells him that he can call upon her help five times as he does so. Jason sets about finding the strongest and bravest men in the land to form his crew, with heroes competing to join him in the search.
Not long after they set off, they begin to encounter all sorts of dangerous events, and various villains and monsters. The huge metal statue Talos comes alive, and they have to fight desperately to overcome it. The ship is almost crushed by the terrifying Clashing Rocks, only saved by the appearance of the undersea god, Triton. Later, they have to fight off vicious flying Harpies too. Then the climactic ending, when the dastardly King Aeetes sows the teeth of the Hydra into the ground, and they grow into an army of sword-wielding skeletons who attack Jason and his men.
The stop-motion models of the legendary Ray Harryhausen bring all those creatures to life, and are a sight to behold, even now. The cast does a fine job of fighting thin air, looking genuinely terrified as they battle monsters that only existed once the effects were edited in. It won’t win any prizes for the acting of course, but this film is a fun and exciting sword and sandals romp for all ages, and I never tire of seeing it.