Clash of the Titans is the 1981 film adaptation of the Greek myth of Perseus. Stop motion animation was used extensively in many special effects, and the monsters were created by Ray Harryhausen, who retired from filmmaking shortly after Clash was released. Stephen R. Wilk wrote in 2000 that "most people today who are aware of the story of Perseus and Medusa owe their knowledge to the 1981 filmClash of the Titans."A remake was released in April, 2010. Reception has been scathingly negative, but pretty much all have described it as 120 minutes of monsters, with little to no explanation of the plot. Which only vaguely resembles the plot of the original anyway. And by "vaguely" we mean "the monsters are the same, mostly." Whether that works is completely up to you. A sequel, Wrath of the Titans,note which coincidentally is the title used in Brazil and all Spanish versions for the first movie was released in April 2012. Miraculously, this one actually features Titans. While reviews were very negative again, audiences generally considered it to be superior to its predecessor.Not to be confused with Class Of The Titans, Crash Of The Titans or Trash of the Titans.
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Clash of the Titans (1981)
Absurdly Sharp Blade: Perseus's magical sword can slice through marble. It never really needs to, but it does need to quickly behead Medusa, whose scales are as hard as iron.
Disproportionate Retribution: In retaliation for his lover and son being sentenced to death, Zeus orders the death of their attempted killer, King Acrisius of Argos. Fair enough. But then he orders the destruction of all of Argos and the deaths of all its inhabitants, too. Later in the film, Thetis does the same thing, declaring that all of Joppa must die in retribution for Calibos's maiming and Cassiopeia's insult.
In the Novelization, Zeus comes off as much less petty in general. In regards to Argos, it's established that the Argosian people already had a long list of offenses against them, and the fact that no one in the whole city lifted a finger to stop a father publically murdering his daughter and her baby was the last straw.
Divine Chessboard: Perseus and Calibos are both guided by opposing gods, Zeus and Thetis respectively... in a very literal fashion, too! The gods have clay statuettes of their favorites that they move about as they wish in a model amphitheater.
Fertile Blood: Calibos sticks his trident into Medusa's head, which Perseus has hung on a branch while resting, giant scorpions are created from the blood as it drips on the ground, which proceed to attack Perseus and his men, killing many of them.
Genre Savvy: Ammon, due to being a poet and playwright of stories very much like Perseus' and dealing with some of the same characters, including Medusa.
Giant Flyer: Calibos' pet vulture. Mr. Harryhausen dug his giant flying beasties.
Go for the Eye: Perseus says this exact phrase when he orders Bubo to steal Stygian Witches' crystal eyeball.
Non-Indicative Name: The title would seem to have you believe that at least two titans will clash at some point in the film. No actual Titans from Greek mythology show up. The Kraken is, at one point, called "the last of the Titans," which would seem to preclude it from clashing with any others. They might has well have left that line out and just tried to play off that "Titan" is supposed to mean "monster." The closest thing we get to an actual clash is the near Title Drop seen below.
Of course, the title works perfectly well if you don't take the "Titans" in it to refer literally to the race, but rather to characters that are much larger than life in their deeds and reputation (which means that the clashes between the gods as well as the clashes between Perseus and his various enemies would count).
Offing the Offspring: Queen Cassiopeia must sacrifice her virgin daughter Andromeda because she pissed off Thetis. In her own temple. King Acrisius also tries to off Perseus as a child, which would actually be Offing the Offspring's Offspring.
Offstage Villainy: Calibos' crimes that were the cause of his transformation are only described but not shown.
Overprotective Dad: The film's explanation for why Acrisius "grew jealous and kept (Danae) guarded from the eyes of men, locked behind iron doors" (in the original myth, this was partly due to a prophecy that his grandson would kill him, but You Can't Fight Fate).
Red Shirt: Any soldier who goes with Perseus on his quest.
Sadly Mythtaken: Amphitrite is the wife of Poseidon in Greek mythology, while Thetis is generally a sea nymph, though some suggest that she was a full goddess, as the film portrays, although she was certainly not among the central circle who dwelt on Olympus.
Scary Scorpions: The giant scorpions that Calibos creates by causing Medusa's blood to drop on some normal scorpions.
Shadow Discretion Shot: Calibos' transformation from man to monster. Necessary in that such effects were otherwise impossible to render cheaply in 1981.
Stay in the Kitchen: "Too perilous (a journey) for a princess." To which Andromeda responds with all due spunk, "You are not my lord and master. Not yet!" and comes along on the trip to the Stygian Witches anyway. Perseus later does ditch her for her own safety when he finds out he has to fight Medusa.
Too Dumb to Live: Cassiopeia declares her daughter Andromeda to be "more beautiful than the goddess Thetis herself!" This she does while standing in Thetis' own temple, directly beneath a giant statue of Thetis. Needless to say, it does not go well for anyone. Even the film itself lampshades how ridiculously stupid this gaffe is.
This becomes Fridge Logic if one knows that Medusa received her curse because she was so very beautifuldriving Poseidon to rape her in Athena's temple. Whether or not she was made so grotesque that her face turned men to stone - or retained her beauty but had her gaze cursed so that "no man could look upon her" is a matter of interpretation.
The Artifact: Andromeda. There is no real need for her to appear in the remake given she has lost her role as Perseus' love interest and her city has already done more than enough to anger the gods even without her mother's hubris in proclaiming her beauty. She only seems to have been retained at all because Perseus rescuing Andromeda is such a big part of the original story. Meanwhile, Io seems to have been added in as the replacement love interest.
In an alternate ending featured on the DVD, he falls for her instead of Io... but see Strangled by the Red String on the YMMV page to see all the problems with it.
Artistic License - History: Quite possibly. Zeus' totem is either a bald eagle (which are native to North America and which the Greeks wouldn't have known about) or an African fish eagle (native to Africa which they probably would have).
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Io always looks like she's just stepped off the set of a shampoo commercial even if everyone else is completely filthy from traveling across wilderness for several days. Not to mention, none of the male heroes get so much as a single change of clothes, while she throws on multiple outfits. Pulled out of Hammerspace, apparently, since they never say where it came from.
Big Damn Heroes: How else would you describe Perseus riding in on a flying horse to kill the Kraken, simultaneously saving the girl and the day?
The two monster hunters appearing in the same scene on one of the scorpions to defend Perseus from some of the harpies.
Bishounen: Perseus's friend and fellow warrior Eusebios.
Bloody Murder: An interesting (and awesome) variation. Through the magic of Hades, Calibos' blood becomes giant scorpions when it strikes the ground.
Perseus: Screw you, Dad! I'm going to live as a man! [Flies away on Pegasus with immortal girlfriend and magic sword.]
This was in the reshoot 'final' version, originally... He was meant to fly into Olympus and throw down the sword to his feet as a big Shut Up, Hannibal!. The gods that helped him were Apollo and Athena, and Zeus (not Hades) was cast more in a villainous light.
Curb-Stomp Battle/Anticlimax Boss: Hades himself finally enters the fray! Oh this is gonna be the big climactic awesome battle — oh wait, all Perseus needed to do was just toss his sword at him and Hades just.... goes home? Somewhat justified in that it's stated that when Perseus slays the Kraken, Hades will be drastically weakened and Zeus supercharged it with a Bolt of Divine Retribution as Perseus held it aloft. However, this does not make it less of a curb-stomp.
Cursed with Awesome: Perseus thinks Io is this when she tells him she's cursed with agelessness because she rejected a god's advances (which she didn't do, in the actual myths). Io then tells him the tragic consequences of bearing such a curse: watching her loved ones die while she continues to live, explicitly comparing it to the death of his family when Hades first appeared.
Darker and Edgier: To the point of only giving Bubo the mechanical owl a cameo (probably as they thought it would be too much of a Joke Character). Pretty-boy Perseus in the white toga is replaced with buzzcut grim Perseus in even more anachronistic medieval leather armor; Bubo is briefly show then as quickly cast aside; most of the winged horses are white but the Pegasus Perseus tames is jet black; and the toga-wearing Olympian thespians now wear late medieval plate armor. Of course, as the original was Extremely Cheesy, the remake has only been bumped down to a Quite Cheesy.
Demoted to Extra: Literally the case with every deity bar Zeus (and Hades because he wasn't in the original film). Also Cassiopeia and Andromeda — the former is killed by Hades very quickly and the latter is demoted from love interest and has only a few minutes of screen time.
Eldritch Abomination: The Kraken is an incredibly huge monster older than the entire human race, that sleeps on the bottom of the ocean, it killed the Titans, and even the GODS fear it. Plus, there's the fact that its design is rather... alien.
Everybody Hates Hades: Hades is the villain, but has no more malice towards humanity than any of the other gods. He's only doing what he does because he's tired of Zeus' BS, not For the Evulz so it doesn't hit Hijacked by Jesus levels. He constantly gloats about feeding off of humanity's fear and making them quake in terror of him, while the others consistently speak of wanting humans to love them again. His anger with Zeus is also purely personal, for being stuck with the sucky realm.
Eyeless Face: The three Stygian Witches' shared eye still has its ocular nerves, which attach in an eye socket in their palm.
Family-Unfriendly Violence: While the movie does have a PG-13 rating to it, there is a scene where Calibos graphically rips a man in half with his bare hands. And yes, it is shown on the screen with blood splattering. It's over very quickly (probably how the film managed to keep the PG-13), but it does still cause a "Did they just do that?" moment.
Fauxshadow: The two hunters who join the group proclaim; "It is death who should fear us!" They are the only surviving members of the group who do not journey to the Underworld.
Game Face: Medusa, when using her petrification powers.
Hijacked by Jesus: Hades is a villain who wishes to unleash "hell on earth" and must be defeated by Perseus. Given that the original myth specifically states that Hades helps Perseus on his quest (giving him the invisibility hat), and that in the fables Hades was perfectly content with his position (the only qualm he seems to have had was how boring the underworld could be at times), and is one of the few Gods who is borderline decentnote OK, one minor case of kidnapping, but she wasn't a human anyway, and even so it pales in comparison to the multiple rapes and murders his brothers Zeus and Poseidon have committed. And some versions of the myth even have it that Persephone wanted Hades to kidnap her since her mother wouldn't approve of them marrying.. Never mind that in Greek lore, the actual Titans actually were imprisoned in Erebos—a wing of the underworld—for some time. The film makers could have arranged Kronos or Iapetos to be usurping Hades and waging war from there, which would have made a lot more sense.
That woman he kidnapped? He married her. And they're the happiest couple in the entire pantheon, and Hades' domain also includes the Elysian Fields, i.e. Paradise.
Luckily the sequel came to the rescue.
Home Guard: The Dwindling Party of soldiers assigned to help Perseus in his mission are from an Honor Guard, distinguished soldiers too old to fight on the front lines or young inexperienced soldiers who look good on display. They are all he gets because the rest of the Argosian army had recently been wiped out after picking a fight with Zeus and Hades.
I Just Want to Be Loved: Eventually, Hades' motive boils down to this. He wants to take over the world as vengeance for Zeus and Poseidon tricking him into becoming Lord of the Underworld, allowing them to get all of humanity's love, while he gets only their fear.
In Name Only: There are many large deviations from the original, but many scenes are taken from the original, and the basic premise is unchanged — Zeus has earned himself a whoopin.
Zeus was largely uninvolved in the original. Sure he was a jerk (as he should be), but no one dared to step too far out of line because he was ZEUS. The one who receives the most punishment in the original is Thetis, her son Calibos being denied Andromeda's hand in marriage and transformed into a beast for a Hand Wave reason. Thetis then lashes out at Andromeda and her family at the slightest provocation because that's all she can do (because he's ZEUS). So, yeah. There is no "whoopin" delivered to Zeus. And he opened the movie by destroying an entire CITY because the king threw his daughter and one of Zeus' illegitimate sons into the sea. Why not just punish the king? Because he's ZEUS, the ultimate Karma Houdini.
More to the point, he overwhelmingly favors Perseus and helps him at every opportunity. He and the hero aren't in opposition at all; he's Perseus's benefactor. Thetis and Calibos are Perseus's enemies in the original.
Jerkass Gods: To be expected of the Greek pantheon - with the possible exception of Apollo.
Karma Houdini: Zeus. Seriously, he is ultimately behind just about every bad thing that happens in the story, really doesn't suffer at all for his actions, does little to nothing to fix anything, and is even forgiven by Perseus who was calling him out on it for the whole movie.
Kneel Before Zod: When Hades appears on Earth, he demands that mortals kneel before him.
Lost Aesop: For the first part of the film, the human heroes are preparing to go to war against the gods in revenge for their tyrannical mistreatment, but then about halfway through Zeus realizes what Hades is up to and decides to secretly help Perseus on his quest to defeat him. After Hades is dealt with, the humans declare their Rage Against the Heavens to be over, even though Zeus, who was acting like a prick and preparing to put the mortals in their place before Hades arrived on the scene, receives no comeuppance whatsoever. Is the Aesop supposed to be that powerful people can get away with anything?
The original film, like classic myths, punished those possessing hubris and rewarded those who humbly went about their world-saving. The remake gave a middle finger to the divine throughout.
Oh Crap: As if a shadowy black figure materializing in your throne room whilst killing all of your guards wasn't reason enough to have this reaction, Cassiopeia then asks for his name: "I am Hades". Cue Cassiopeia and about half the room looking like they've just soiled themselves.
Also the scene where after a deadly battle with a single giant scorpion, they find themselves surrounded by half a dozen or so giant scorpions. Eep.
Oh My Gods!: Largely averted, at least with Perseus. Sam Worthington seems fond of saying "What the hell is/was this/that?" instead of "Tartarus" or something along those lines.
Plot Hole: The entire plot of the movie hinges on internal contradictions.
The gods supposedly need human prayer to survive, yet they predate humanity and even fought a cosmic war with the titans without so much as a single worshiper to empower them.
The Kraken is a monster so powerful that even gods and titans could not defeat it. However, the gaze of Medusa's severed head, whose powers were the result of a curse cast on her by Athena in a fit of pique, can instantly turn it into stone. Somehow it never occurred to any of the gods to just make another such monster in order to stop the Kraken, and by extension Hades.
Rage Against the Heavens: Aside from Hades, Zeus and many of the other gods are portrayed as being all-around bastards, which is the primary source of the story's conflict. This leads to Perseus spending much of the film trying to act in denial of his divine parentage.
Even further on the alternate ending, where Perseus flies to the Olympus to confront Zeus (though mostly verbally, fighting him is another story...).
Red Herring: One of those soldiers sounds exactly like Liam Neeson. Considering Zeus' penchant for disguising himself as a supporting character, you'd think something was going to be made of this... But nope, it's just a normal soldier who happens to sound exactly like Liam Neeson.
Poseidon is frequently mentioned in the beginning of the film as being one of the gods to stand up to the titans, the ruler of the sea who (at least in the eyes of Spyros) is responsible for the lack of fish, and the guy who raped Medusa. Yet he shows up as often as the other gods, besides Zeus and Hades. Hell, even Apollo had a bigger role in the film than Poseidon, and Apollo had all of one scene of dialogue.
The first group of soldiers that Perseus teams up with. They seem to have at least a little bit of characterization. They survive all the way back to Argos, basically the beginning of the First Act.
Rule of Cool: A lot of the human storylines are dropped so the audience can see Perseus fight more monsters. Which a lot of viewers are perfectly fine with. Oddly, while the monsters are impressively animated, the filmmakers have done relatively little to make them distinctive in contrast to the original. Calibos, for instance, has gone from a deformed half-saytr thing to, well, Two-Face in a tunic.
The only monsters that weren't in the original were the harpies, and the fight with the two-headed dog was removed. So overall, the number of monster fights is actually even.
Sadly Mythtaken: The Kraken is from Norse Mythology, the Gods won the Titanomachy by themselves... Io isn't even from the same myth as Perseus. About three days into their seven day journey (on foot mind you), they enter a desert and encounter Djinn. While there were deserts in the traditional definition of "Greece", which included Turkey (and also explains the Doric ruins), it still doesn't explain how they got there from the Peloponnese in three days, or why they even got that far off course.
The original myth has Perseus seeking Medusa's head for a completely unrelated reasons to Andromeda's plight. He saves her because he happens to be flying home on Hermes' winged sandals and comes across this poor Virgin Sacrifice strapped to a rock. And so they were married.
In Greek mythology Hades was not an adversary of the other gods, just a member of the pantheon that oversaw of an area of concern (the afterlife) that most people would rather not think about. He was even married to his beautiful niece Persephone.
One thing weirder about Sheik Suleiman? While the title Sheik and legends of Djinn predate Islam, Suleiman is a very Islamic name for something set in the same vague time period as Mythological Greece. The Roman Empire should cover the Mediterranean and Christianity should be around if Djinn have Muslim names.
In Greek Mythology Io wasn't "cursed with agelessness"; she was a priestess of Argos who was turned into a cow by Zeus to hide her from his jealous wife Hera when she caught the two canoodling (she certainly didn't spurn Zeus' advances).
Contrary to the reference by one of the Stygian witches, Medusa and the Kraken were not Titans. The Titans were Elder Gods, who were overthrown by a race of younger gods, their descendants, a.k.a., the Olympians.
Zeus revolted against his father, Cronus and the other Titans, defeated them, and banished them to Tartarus, a dungeon in the Underworld. Hades was not banished. He drew lots with Zeus and Poseidon, for shares of the world. He drew the Underworld, making him also the god of the hidden wealth of the earth, including gold and silver. He was cool with it. The movie also says he was not worshiped and while he was seldom worshiped as Hades (that name mostly refers to his realm) he was often worshiped in Greece under the name Pluton, the god of wealth.
Mankind was created by a Titan called Prometheus, not Zeus. By some accounts, Zeus delegated the job to brother Titans, Prometheus (the wisest Titan; his name means "forethought") and Epimetheus (the stupidest Titan; his name means "afterthought"). For the record, Epimetheus was granted a wife by the name of Pandora...
Perseus was Acrisius' grandson, not his son.
Zeus impregnated Acrisius' daughter by appearing as a shower of golden light, not as her husband. She was never married, due to this wacky prophecy about her son being the one who kills Acrisius (some versions make the murder intentional, others account his death by Perseus pulling out Medusa's head at a dinner party. It makes sense in context). Coincidentally, Hercules (aka Heracles) was the one created by Zeus masquerading as some woman's husband... Still another holds that Perseus entered a discus competition and his discus went astray and killed a spectator.
Medusa doesn't live in the Underworld.
There was only one Pegasus, not a herd, who sprang forth from Medusa's necknote Indeed, "Pegasus" actually means "he who sprang". Pegasus was also not ridden by Perseus, but an unrelated hero named Bellerophon.
Scorpion Tank: The Djinn give the surviving giant scorpions a quick off-screen attitude adjustment.
Those Two Guys: Those two hunters who tag along with Perseus and the soldiers from Argos. They chicken out when they head to kill Medusa, but show up again, riding one of the Djinn-trained scorpions to help save the day at the end of the film.
Too Dumb to Live: Pretty much all of humanity in this movie. Because pissing off beings who govern the universe seemed like a good idea at the time. Incredibly cruel and fickle beings who govern the universe, even.
The gods-fearing peasant is determined to see Andromeda's sacrifice go through. He probably doesn't even want Perseus to slay the Kraken.
The Unintelligible: The Djinn, sort of. Sheikh Suleiman was speaking Arabic in some scenes, especially when the Djinn saved Perseus and Co. from the scorpions.
Wag the Director: It has been revealed that there's a significantly different edit that has a plotline much closer to classical mythology. The reason why it wasn't released is unclear, but there are indications that Sam Worthington or the executives successfully argued that it wouldn't be entertaining to children.
Body Horror: There's the Chimera, a two-headed monster with no skin on its faces and a sentinent tail. A minotaur with a deformed face. Makhai warriors with two bodies joined at the waist. And Kronos, who is a massive titan made of molten magma with fists the size of a village.
Breath Weapon: The Chimera can breathe fire, with the horned, rhino-like head vomiting gasoline-like fluid that the fanged, ape-like head ignites with hot embers.
Dungeon Bypass: Hephaestus creates one, while he builds the Tartarus, since he built it from the outside to the inside and needed an exit for himself.
Dynamic Entry: Ares uses one, leaping from other location in the world, to the front door of the Labyrinth, using the impact from his landing to knock everyone present into the ground with a shockwave. To reiterated, Ares. Jumped. Across. The World. And. Subdued. People. With his. LANDING. That's Dynamic Entry on an epic level.
First Girl Wins: Technically speaking, Andromeda. Whilst Io had apparently been watching Perseus his entire life, she neglected to introduce herself to him until after he'd already met Andromeda. At the end of Wrath, the two apparently begin a relationship (it's implied because of standing Hollywood expectations, but all that actuallys happens is he grabs her and pulls her in for a surprise kiss when she's talking about battle strategy and there hasn't been a hint of romance between them).
Hoist by His Own Petard: The chimera in the first battle. Perseus impales the fuel head which causes it to continuously spew out flammable fluid on itself and the ground, then goads the ignition head into lighting it.
Hybrid Monster: Instead of having a lion head and a goat head, the Chimera has one head resembling a manticore-gorilla and the other one like a deformed rhinoceros. And if you look closely, you just might notice - the Chimera's faces have no skin at all on them!
Karma Houdini: Despite having a change of heart by siding with Zeus, ultimately forgiving him, and helping to combat their insane father, Hades is still unpunished for the death's of Perseus' family and thousands of other people. Sure he lost his immortality, but he seems quite alright with his situation.
Made of Iron: Compared to the first movie, Perseus takes a lot of punishment, and it shows on his body, yet it's still much more than a normal human would be able to take - he's a demigod after all. Agenor himself also displays demigod levels of Made of Iron, considering He took a full-force blow from Ares' warhammer with Poseidon's trident not exactly providing the best shield in that situation. He was struck with enough force to knock him into a pillar, which exploded and collapsed upon impact. Despite this, he still managed to walk it off.
Magma Man: Kronos could be the poster boy of this trope.
Missing Mom: Io is dead by the time the events of the sequel take place and is Heleus's mother. It never really is properly explained what happened to her.
Offhand Backhand: Ares is so badass, He doesn't have to look behind him when one of the Spartans following Perseus and Andromeda, throws an axe at him, which He deftly catches and throws at his fellow Spartan with enough force to knock the poor bastard into a pillar and crush part of the pillar in the process. He doesn't even look behind him when said Spartan tries to back stab him. He merely turns right as the guy charges, picks him up and throws him like a doll.
Organ Autonomy: The Chimera's tail, which for most of the fight just flails about like an ordinary mindless appendage, then halfway through it inexplicably comes to life and tries to bite Perseus! Subverted in that the tail has a small head at the end, but still...
Papa Wolf: Pretty much Perseus's entire motivation for the film.
This is the entrance to the labyrinth. There are hundreds of doors, all of which would kill you, ha ha... save one. You see, I designed it to play tricks with the mind. After all, the mind is the greatest trap of all.
The Makhai look like Olympus Fiends (with two heads) from God of War.
Also Cronus looks a lot like the magma titan.
The Chimera is a triple Shout Out: The "lion" head resembles a white ape from Disney's John Carter, the "goat" head resembles the reek from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, and the serpent tail looks like a Xenomorph chestburster.
Poseidon also gets just SLIGHTLY more screentime here before getting killed off.
Super Strength: In full force in this movie. Ares crumples his enemies like they were made out of clay. Hell, being slapped by Ares looks like it hurts a lot. He even knocked Andromeda off her feet by merely shoving her sword into a sheath and jabbing her with the pummel of her sword. Zeus and Hades kick the crap out of the Makhai attacking the Unified Greek Army, pummeling these Made of IronPerpetual Motion Monsters with incredible feats of strength. Perseus is no slouch either, having used iron chains of questionable quality to ensnare the Chimera and restrain it long enough for it to kill itself.
Too Dumb to Live: It's really a very ill-advised idea to pray to the same gods you're presently fighting.
"Well Done, Son" Guy: Ares betrays Zeus because he loathes that he casts his favor and affection more on Perseus, his mortal half-brother, instead of him.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Hades bargains with Kronos that if he would set him free, Kronos would allow Hades and the surviving Gods to keep their immortality. However, he does so knowing that Kronos will wreak havoc upon the earth and cause untold millions of mortals to die (And possibly lead to their extinction).
What Happened to the Mouse?: Averted in the case of the Chimeras. Four were unleashed from Tartarus by Hades, but only one was encountered by Perseus. The other three is mentioned to have been killed by Andromeda's army (her general/commander? briefly mentioned they lost several hundred men to kill them during Andromeda's first scenes).
What happened to the rest of the Greek Pantheon? The Olympian Gods were all seen in the last one, but here only Zeus, Poseidon, Ares, Hades, and Hephaestus appear. It is possible though that the others have already died due to a lack of prayer.