Some say it’s Casablanca or Citizen Kane. I say it’s Jason and the Argonauts that’s the greatest film ever made’. A bold statement from one of the greatest actors in recent years, Tom Hanks, but it’s difficult to argue when you watch this cult classic.
Over the holidays I was tasked to find adaptations of Greek myths, and what else than to re-visit such an important piece of cinema. It’s a film I watched when I was very young, as my dad showed me all of his childhood favourites, so it was a treat for us both when we sat down and watched it.
The story: a man called Jason journeys across the ancient seas of mythological Greece to find the Golden Fleece, so he can claim his rightful throne. A wonderfully faithful adaptation to the classic take of the hero Jason; not only does it stay close to the original events, but presents the magic of the myths in a beautiful way, combining the real locations that capture the look of Greece perfectly, and the stop motion effects by Ray Harryhausen.
One of my favourite parts of the film has to be the remarkable casting of Herakles, Nigel Green, known for his tall and commanding physique. Compared with Dwayne Johnson’s portrayal as the hero, Nigel Green focuses more on the humanity and compassionate side of Herakles, creating a relatable character and putting emphasis on the relationship between him and Hylas, rather than the strength and heroic nature of the mythical figure.
Although the script is quite basic and the acting is questionable in some cases, the most thrilling aspect of the whole picture is the stop motion effects. Made in 1963, CGI and special effects were hardly existent, so enter Ray Harryhausen; a pioneer in stop motion effects, a genius in bringing myths and legendary creatures to life. As the Argo sails on its quest to the Golden Fleece, Jason comes across many mythical creatures, such as the Harpies and the Hydra, and not to forget the iconic skeletal warriors.
If you’re a lover of Greek Myth, fantasy or cinema history, this film is a must-see. If an icon like Tom Hanks rates it so highly, its definitely worth a watch.