Ohhh, I have been excited to watch this movie for a long, long time.
Ostensibly, Jason and the Argonauts is the story of the hero Jason — hero being defined in this case as a demigod — who embarks on a quest to recover the golden fleece.
(A note on the golden fleece: practically, the description of this (fictional) artifact might have emerged from the real-life practice of collecting gold from running water by laying sheepskins in the stream. Just as they demonstrated earlier, in “What The Ancients Did For Us”!)
In the classic tradition of Greek epics, the story starts when a king (Pelias) tries to prevent his eventual overthrow by killing off potential prophesied usurpers before they can come of age — but in doing so, he only succeeds in laying the path for the thing he feared the most.
Twenty years later, a grown-up Jason fishes Pelias out of a river, and the king decides to encourage him to take on a dangerous quest, hoping he’ll die without Pelias having to do it himself.
After some posturing and discus throwing, Jason recruits a bunch of his buddies and they sail off in a specially-designed ship, the Argo.
Then they do some hero stuff, but the rest of the movie is basically an excuse to show off the incredibly awesome stop-motion work of genre master Ray Harryhausen, who considered this his best film. And I agree.
Skeleton children of the hydra:
The awakening of Talos:
The skeleton clip lasts four minutes, but it took more than four months to create. Every tiny movement is the result of the touch of a human hand. Incredible.
I’m resisting posting videos of the other cool stuff, so that I don’t overwhelm this post with clips. But seeing these makes me feel like the Cat from Red Dwarf. YOW!
Anyway, back to the story — most of the heroes die in the battle, but Jason escapes the spookies, gets the girl and returns home, where he gets to rule two kingdoms and have a lifetime of adventures.
But what does all that matter, when you remember that we’re all (literal!) pawns of the immortals, eh?