Sunday, April 12, 2009

Past Lives of Professor McGonagall

Is anyone else excited to hear that there’s going to be a Clash of the Titans movie remake featuring Liam Neeson as Zeus and Ralph Fiennes as Hades? There wasn’t actually a Hades character in the original movie, so the revision must have quite a number of changes, but it should be fun anyway. I saw a fan comment say something like, “Voldemort vs Qui-Gon – this is gonna be so awesome!”

(For those in pop culture isolation, Ralph Fiennes is playing Lord Voldemort in the movie series of Harry Potter and Liam Neeson played Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. I shouldn’t need to explain Harry Potter or Star Wars, I hope.)

After reading the casting news, SwingDaddy and I were inspired to dig up the 1981 original, made easy through the magic of Netflix instant download. It was as cheesy as we remembered, but really entertaining, and with a brilliant cast that I didn’t recognize when I saw it at age ten.

Laurence Olivier as Zeus. Ursula Andress as Aphrodite. Maggie Smith as Thetis, a sea goddess. She has a pivotal role, and it was fabulous to see her nuance and talent in a time capsule. I recall seeing a clip of Ian McKellen’s opening monologue as a guest host on Saturday Night Live where he reminisced about his theatre days with Maggie Smith and Anthony Hopkins. These days, Ian pondered, after all their years of stagecraft and Shakespearean work, he has his own action figure, “Tony” is known for eating people, and Dame Maggie is the “Harry Potter lady.”

I was also amused at how similarly irritated SwingDaddy and I are about the liberties the screenplay took with Greek mythology. Perseus was given winged sandals by the gods, not a winged horse. It was Bellerophon who rode Pegasus. Krakens are Norse, not Greek; the Titans were supposed to be handsome (and not rubber Norwegian monsters); but I’ll forgive the two-headed dog, because even the master Ray Harryhausen had his limits with doing stop-motion animation on a properly three-headed Cerberus.

Can’t say that I’ll be in the movie theater when the new flick comes out, but it’ll be worth a Netflix.

Photo credits: Perseus. Thetis. Professor McGonagall.


Mayberry said...

It's good that you have a partner that shares your irritation over the right things.

kittenpie said...

Playing fast and loose with the myths you are writing about wouldtick me off, too.