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Clash of the Titans
File:Clash of the titansposter.jpg
Film poster by Brothers Hildebrandt
Directed byDesmond Davis
Written byBeverley Cross
Produced by
  • Ray Harryhausen
  • Charles H. Schneer
  • Harry Hamlin
  • Laurence Olivier
  • Judi Bowker
  • Maggie Smith
  • Burgess Meredith
CinematographyTed Moore
Edited byTimothy Gee
Music byLaurence Rosenthal
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • June 12, 1981 (1981-06-12) (US)
  • July 2, 1981 (1981-07-02) (UK)
Running time
118 minutes
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Budget$15 million
Box office$41 million (North America)

Clash of the Titans is a 1981 British-American heroic fantasy adventure film directed by Desmond Davis which retells the Greek mythological story of Perseus. It stars Harry Hamlin, Judi Bowker, Burgess Meredith, Maggie Smith and Laurence Olivier. The film features the final work of stop motion visual effects artist Ray Harryhausen. It was released on June 12, 1981 and grossed $41 million at the North American box office,[1] which made it the 11th highest grossing film of the year.[2] A novelization of the film by Alan Dean Foster was published in 1981.

Warner Bros. released a remake in 3D on April 2, 2010.[3][4]


King Acrisius of Argos (Donald Houston) imprisons his daughter Danaë (Vida Taylor), jealous of her attracting suitors. When the god Zeus (Laurence Olivier) impregnates her, Acrisius banishes his daughter and his newborn grandson Perseus to sea in a wooden chest. In retribution, Zeus kills Acrisius and orders Poseidon (Jack Gwillim) to release the last of the Titans, a gigantic sea creature called the Kraken, to destroy Argos. Meanwhile, Danaë and Perseus safely float to the island of Seriphos, where Perseus grows to adulthood.

Calibos (Neil McCarthy), son of the sea goddess Thetis (Maggie Smith), is a young man engaged to marry Princess Andromeda (Judi Bowker), the daughter of Queen Cassiopeia (Siân Phillips) and heir to the rich city of Joppa; but for committing several atrocities against Zeus, including hunting and destroying Zeus's sacred flying horses (excepting only Pegasus), Zeus transforms Calibos into a monstrous satyr and he is exiled by his people. In revenge, Thetis transports an adult Perseus (Harry Hamlin) from Seriphos to an abandoned amphitheatre in Joppa, where he is befriended by an elderly poet named Ammon (Burgess Meredith) and learns that Andromeda is under a curse and cannot marry unless her suitor successfully answers a riddle, whose failures are burned at the stake. In order to aid his son, Zeus sends Perseus a god-crafted helmet from Athena (Susan Fleetwood) which makes its wearer invisible, a magical sword from Aphrodite (Ursula Andress), and a shield from Hera (Claire Bloom). Perseus, wearing the helmet, captures Pegasus and follows Andromeda to learn the next riddle. Perseus is nearly killed by Calibos but manages to sever one of Calibos' hands, losing his helmet in the process.

Perseus befriends Thallo (Tim Pigott-Smith) and presents himself as suitor and correctly answers the riddle, presenting the severed hand of Calibos. Perseus wins Andromeda's hand in marriage. Calibos, finding that Thetis cannot act against Perseus, instead demands that she take vengeance on Joppa. At the wedding, Queen Cassiopeia compares Andromeda's beauty to that of Thetis herself, whereupon Thetis demands Andromeda be sacrificed to the Kraken on pain of Joppa's destruction.


The gorgon Medusa

Perseus seeks a way to defeat the Kraken, while Pegasus is captured by Calibos and his men. Zeus commands Athena to give Perseus her owl Bubo; but she orders Hephaestus (Pat Roach) to build a golden replica of Bubo instead, who leads Perseus to the Stygian Witches (Flora Robson, Anna Manahan, and Freda Jackson). By taking their magic eye Perseus forces them to reveal that the only way to defeat the Kraken is by using the head of Medusa the Gorgon, who lives on an island in the River Styx at the edge of the Underworld. The next day, the group continues on their journey without Andromeda and Ammon, who return to Joppa.

On the Gorgon's island with three soldiers by his side, Perseus fights Medusa's guardian, a two-headed dog named Dioskilos, who kills one of his companions but Perseus intervenes in the nick of time and kills the beast. Perseus leads his two remaining allies into the Gorgon's lair. His two other companions die on encounter with Medusa herself; she shoots one of the soldiers with an arrow and turns the other to stone. Perseus uses the reflective underside of his shield to deceive Medusa, decapitates her, and collects her head; but the shield is dissolved by her caustic blood. As Perseus and his party set to return, Calibos enters their camp and punctures the cloak carrying Medusa's head, causing her blood to spill and produce three giant scorpions called Scorpiochs. The scorpions attack and Thallo is able to kill one of them, but he is killed by Calibos himself. Perseus slays the other two scorpions and thereafter kills Calibos and grieves Thallo's death.

File:Titans Kraken.jpg

The Kraken comes to claim Andromeda

Weakened by his struggle, Perseus sends Bubo to rescue Pegasus, who is being held prisoner by Calibos' henchmen. Bubo succeeds in his task and manages to destroy Calibos' camp as well. Perseus reaches the amphitheatre in Joppa, but collapses unconscious from exhaustion. Andromeda is shackled to the sea cliffs outside Joppa, and the Kraken itself is summoned. Bubo diverts the Kraken's attention until Perseus, whose strength was secretly re-restored by Zeus before the Kraken was released, appears on Pegasus. In the subsequent battle, Perseus petrifies the Kraken with Medusa's head, causing it to crumble to pieces. He then tosses the head into the sea, frees Andromeda, and marries her.

The gods predict that Perseus and Andromeda will live happily, rule wisely, and produce children, and Zeus forbids the other gods to pursue vengeance against them. The constellations of Perseus, Andromeda, Pegasus, and Cassiopeia are created in their honor.


  • Harry Hamlin as Perseus
  • Judi Bowker as Andromeda
  • Burgess Meredith as Ammon
  • Maggie Smith as Thetis
  • Siân Phillips as Cassiopeia
  • Claire Bloom as Hera
  • Ursula Andress as Aphrodite
  • Laurence Olivier as Zeus
  • Pat Roach as Hephaestus
  • Susan Fleetwood as Athena
  • Tim Pigott-Smith as Thallo
  • Jack Gwillim as Poseidon
  • Neil McCarthy as Calibos
  • Vida Taylor as Danaë
  • Donald Houston as Acrisius
  • Flora Robson, Anna Manahan and Freda Jackson as the Stygian Witches


In 1978, Andor Films submitted a copy of the script to the British Board of Film Classification, seeking advice on how to secure either a "U" or an "A" certificate. The draft script included scenes which the BBFC considered would not be acceptable under those certificates, including the Kraken tearing Pegasus to pieces and Andromeda being naked during the climax of the film. Changes to the script and, on submission, some cuts to Perseus' final battle with Calibos were made and the film secured the "A" certificate: "Those aged 5 and older admitted, but not recommended for children under 14 years of age".[5]

Ray Harryhausen used the special effects technique of stop motion animation to create the various creatures in Clash of the Titans. Harryhausen was also co-producer of the film, and retired from filmmaking shortly after the movie was released, making this his last main feature film. Despite the mechanical owl Bubo's similarities to the droid R2-D2 of the 1977 film Star Wars, Harryhausen claimed that Bubo was created before Star Wars was released.[6] The BBFC, reviewing the film for certification in 1981, said that Harryhausen's effects were well done and would give entertainment to audiences of all ages, but might appear a little "old hat" to those familiar with Star Wars and Superman.[5]

Stars Harry Hamlin and Ursula Andress were romantically involved at the time of production. Their son, Dimitri, was born in 1980 after filming was completed, and their relationship ended in 1982.

Jack Gwillim, who appeared as Poseidon, had earlier played the role of King Aeëtes in the original Jason and the Argonauts in 1963.

The film's screenwriter, Beverley Cross, was married to Maggie Smith, who played Thetis, until his death in 1998. Cross worked with producer Charles H. Schneer before, writing the screenplay for Schneer's production of Jason and the Argonauts.


Clash of the Titans was released on June 12, 1981. By the time it finished its theatrical run, it had grossed $41,000,000 in North America.[7] The film has a 66% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[8] In a book published in 2000, Stephen R. Wilk suggested that "most people today who are aware of the story of Perseus and Medusa owe their knowledge to the 1981 film Clash of the Titans."[9]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

  • 2008: AFI's 10 Top 10:
    • Nominated Fantasy Film[10]


Other locations include:

  • Cornwall, United Kingdom.
  • The Albert R. Broccoli 007 Stage, at Pinewood Studios, United Kingdom.
  • Paestum, Italy


Warner Bros., the current rights holder of this film (which sister company Turner Entertainment acquired from MGM as part of their pre-1986 film library in 1986), produced a remake that was released in 3-D on 2 April 2010.[3][4] Directed by Louis Leterrier, it stars Sam Worthington as Perseus, Alexa Davalos as Andromeda, and Liam Neeson as Zeus.[11][12][13]

Bubo, Athena's mechanical owl in the original film, makes a cameo appearance in the 2010 remake and its 2012 sequel, Wrath of the Titans.

Starting in 2007, comic publisher Bluewater Productions has released follow-up sequels to Clash of the Titans, authorized by Ray Harryhausen, entitled Wrath of the Titans.

See also[]

  • List of stop motion films
  • List of historical drama films
  • Greek mythology in popular culture


  1. Clash of the Titans (1981) -
  2. 1981 Yearly Box Office Results -
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Clash of the Titans Official site: Film poster". February 2010. Retrieved February 19, 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "3-Deathly Hallows: Titans and Potter go to third dimension". Heat Vision Blog. January 27, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2010.
  5. 5.0 5.1 From the Archive….we look back at Clash of the Titans, BBFC, retrieved 2012-03-13
  6. Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton, Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life, page 270 (London: Aurum Press Ltd, 2003) ISBN 1-85410-940-5.
  7. "Clash of the Titans". Box Office Mojo.
  8. "Clash of the Titans". Rotten Tomatoes.
  9. Wilk, Stephen R. (June 26, 2000). Medusa: Solving the Mystery of the Gorgon. p. 209. ISBN 0-195-12431-6.
  10. "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  11. "Clash of the Titans Commences Production for Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures". Business Wire. April 25, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2009.
  12. "Medusa's Head Hiding Within Perseus' Sack? Three Blind Witches!". October 2, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2009.
  13. "New Clash of the Titans Remake Stills". October 2, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2009.

External links[]

Template:Desmond Davis Template:Clash of the Titans