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And When the Titans clash...
There is indeed lots of clashing in the Clash of the Titans, but, even so, I’m not sure if I agree with the second part of the title; there is no titan—or at least, not any that we have been familiar with for more than two millennia. Too much liberty has been taken with the Greek mythology that it’s almost possible to write a new encyclopedia out of the movie’s characters and events, different than all the encyclopedias of mythology written before. Most significantly, characters’ relationships to each other have all changed very dramatically that one becomes confused when associating them to her prior knowledge. Very true; the names of the movie characters are still the same as the ones in the myth, and Perseus is still going to murder—but whom? Originally only Medusa. Recently, thanks to the marketing power of violence, lots of other almost-mythical monsters as well. But no pity for Perseus—in turn, he is also equipped with more weapons—including riding on Pegasus—and is accompanied by a large entourage of warriors on his odyssey.
For merchandising, however, violence can not stand as the only tool; a feminine aspect is desperately needed to modify the harsh environment. Following this rule, in the first place, Clash has customized the roles of Danae and Andromeda to increase the efficiency of the movie’s personification of romance, Io, a character borrowed—if not say imported—from another myth that is totally irrelevant to that of Perseus. Io brings for Perseus the love of a good woman—hope, motivation, and fidelity.
The original myth starts, according to Ovid, with an oracle’s prophecy that King Acrisius of Argos it going to be overpowered by his own heir. Hence, the alarmed King shuts her virgin daughter, Danae, in a castle. Nevertheless, Danae can not stay safe from the womanizer Zeus. After bearing Zeus’s child, Danae and her son are confined in a wooden chest and abandoned to the wild roaring sea. Not long after, luckily, they both survive at the shore of the Island of Seriphos. As years pass, Danae becomes more beautiful than ever, so lovely that the eyes of the ruler of the Island fall upon her. Unfortunately, the King detests his to-be step-son, and demands from him the head of Medusa as a gift for his marriage to Danae.
Louis Letterrier, Clash’s director, did not assent to this story. Above all, Clash has Acrisius married to Danae, and has engaged him in rebellions against the god Zeus. As a punishment, Zeus impregnates Danae, inducing the King to kill her and then relinquishing the mother and child at the sea. Years later, after rebellious efforts against Zeus by the people of Argos, the masculine Perseus is brought before the King and Queen of the city. Here comes another surprise. Cepheus and Cassiopeia of Ethiopia have, apparently, bleached their skins, abdicated from their mythical sovereignty and accepted the bequest of the throne of Argos. Very interesting. The Queen boastingly likens the beauty of her daughter, Andromeda, to that of the goddess Aphrodite; whereas, in the ancient myth, her comparison objects are Nemeids, the sea nymphs. As a punishment, Hades curses the Queen to old age and proclaims that, unless Andromeda is offered as a sacrifice, in the upcoming solar eclipse, he would “release the Kraken”.
“Only her blood will sate the Kraken and Zeus,” he says. As he takes his leave, Hades reveals to people that Perseus is a demigod.
Not long after, Perseus is captured and shut in a prison. And there enters our mysterious beauty, introducing herself and calling Perseus by name.
“And how do you know me?”Perseus asks.
“I’ve watched you all your life. I guided you to your family,” Io says.
Io does not belong to the story of Perseus. In fact, the Ancient Greeks had Io as one of Zeus’s many mortal lovers. After seducing her, Zeus transformed the poor Io to a heifer to enhance her escaping the wrath of Hera. Clash’s Io has detached lips, a striking gaze, slender legs and bare shoulders enclosed in her heavenly white clothing—that is not always a toga—giving her an impression of sexy innocence. She is good-hearted and proves herself helpful after joing Perseus in his journey. But, most of all, she’s of the female gender. We have enough reasons to justify her presence.
As Hades launches more bloodshed in Argos and persists on the demand for Andromeda’s sacrifice, Perseus is asked to take action. Afterwards, we witness periods of intense fantasy-like violence—the very same repetitive scenes that we’ve already seen many times before. This pattern goes on even after Io is stabbed and, at the moment of her death, urges Perseus to save Andromeda. She is then transformed into golden, ethereal vapor.
“Release the Kraken,” Hades orders as he sees the eclipse, and, consequently, the bloodshed goes on more severely until Perseus successfully rescues Andromeda. He would have married her if he was the Greek Perseus, but he is not. Now the Queen of Argos, Andromeda gladly informs Perseus of the advance of rescue boats.
“They’re coming for you, not fore me,” he answers, refusing Andromeda’s proposal. “I can not be a king. I serve you better as a man.”
Our hero even declines Zeus’s offer. “I’d rather die in the mud with these men than live forever as a god,” he says.
For this reason, his father decides that Perseus should not live alone, and, as a result, revives Io. Bang. Happily ever after.
IMDB (Internet Movie Database) introduces Clash of the Titans as a movie in the Fantasy, action, and adventure genres. It’s an hour and forty minutes of violence and an inevitable romance. Likewise, myths and heroes also provided entertainment for the Ancient Greeks. If the purposes of the two are the same, one might argue, then what’s the problem with the deviations of Clash from mythology?
To begin with, imagine a college student convicted of plagiarism. It is very unlikely that he would pride himself by shouting out, “That author and I both intended to inform. Our purposes were the same and I am not guilty.” Nope, not a convincing reason. Unfortunately, there are not probably any Olympian-god-worshipping pagans left to defend the rights of the piteous deities. If Letterrier had made the movie out of, say, Harry Potter, he and his whole cast would have been charged with denying copyright in millions of dollars. On the other hand, there is not doubt that the copyright of Greek mythology has never belonged to a nation, but to the whole civilization and mankind; if it ever existed, it would have been expired by now, after thousands of years. Then, what is the problem with Clash?
What’s very special about the Greek deities is that they are our earliest forms of science, religion and reasoning; they lead the Greek mind to the birth of philosophy with Thales and years later with Socrates, who by then was wise enough to disbelieve in the deities and was executed for this sin. Zeus, Hades, and Perseus have all once been the personifications of the civilizing people’s desires, feelings, hopes, dreams, and fears. We’re not talking about a bestseller sci-fi paperback. Greek heroes were the whole foundation of the mind of the early man, all holy and sacred, venerable, worshipful.
There is a difference between the Greek deities and the later prophets, such as Muhammad, Jesus and Moses, who are all everyday subjects of criticism or even sarcastic humor in the media. The hardcore religious followers convict the deities to belong to an age of ignorance and polytheism, not for once remembering that their own religions, Islam and Christianity and Judaism, have all adapted many concepts of this Greek ignorance in their foundations. The Greek deities are the source and inspiration for all the religions that were born later; how can we now reduce them, disfigure and manipulate them into a blockbuster fantasy, and still consider the movie to have mythical relations? Who could have recognized these mythical relations if we took out the prestigious names of the characters and presented them with Anglophonic names? Mythology for Clash of the Titans is merely a mask, an added layer of cream on top of the cake, to distinguish it among its rival fantasies. There must be some reverence, a limit to Hollywoodizing the world.
As if these were not enough, Latterier released the sequel of his movie, Wrath of the Titans, earlier this month. It is not very wise to accuse only Clash and Wrath of being unfaithful to the Ancient Greeks; almost all the fantasy books and movies are an assortment of different myths. But to name the characters after the myths, to present the myths wrongly with celebrities and use them merely as marketing tools, the story is different. Still, this fakery is not limited to Clash; a genre of Greek-myth-relation has always existed. Pity for the voiceless, once-glamorous and awe-inspiring deities, now being tinkered and tampered with in our modern hands. What is there to be done? In any case, you can still just relax, sit back, turn off your understanding of mythology, eat the popcorn and enjoy the fast-paced special effects.