Film: Jason and the Argonauts
Jason and the Argonauts
is a well known Sword And Sandal
film produced by Ray Harryhausen
and loosely based off a Greek myth
. It is famous for its skeleton fight scene, one of the best stop motion sequences in history. It is looked on fondly by many nostalgics who remember loving it as a child, and has actually held up reasonably well over time.
There was another movie made in 2000 produced by Hallmark with the same title that followed the original myth more closely, its ending aside. Many fans of the Harryhausen movie often mistake the Hallmark version for a remake of it despite them both being based on the same myth and having virtually nothing in common apart from the titles.
The stories of both films revolve around the hero Jason, rightful heir to the throne of Iolcus (Thessaly, in the 60s film), whose throne was usurped from his father by Evil Uncle
Pelias. Pelias offers to give Jason the throne if he sails to the end of the world to claim the Golden Fleece, something which many have tried but failed. Jason gathers a crew and sets sail aboard the ship Argo
. Together, the Argonauts encounter all sorts of adventures along the way. Jason's love interest in the both films is Medea, a temple dancer in the 60s film and a sorceress in the Hallmark version, and the gods Zeus and Hera play roles in the story as well.
The most famous contemporary source for the original myth is Apollonius of Rhodes' Argonautica
The Harryhausen film provides examples of:
The Hallmark film provides examples of:
- Adaptational Attractiveness: A pretty unique inversion. In mythology, Atalanta was an Amazonian Beauty with blond hair that had suitors lining up for her. Here she is portrayed as a rather plain tomboy.
- All Amazons Want Hercules: Atalanta doesn't really show much interest in the thief that is attracted to her, having eyes for the strong Jason. The trope isn't played literally since she shows no interest in Hercules himself.
- Amazon Brigade: The women on the Isle of Lemnos. However it's ultimately subverted. While they wear armour and carry weapons, it's implied that they're not skilled warriors. Rather than just capturing Jason and his crew, they have to resort to drugging and trickery. One woman simply falls off her horse when trying to chase after them. Aside from one or two getting hit with arrows, the women of Lemnos pose no threat once the Argonauts are aware of their plans.
- Back Up Twin: Jason London's twin Jeremy doubled for him a few times.
- Beard of Sorrow: Mopsus has grown one since Pelias took over.
- Betty and Veronica: Atalanta is the Betty to Jason - childhood friend and already very close to him. Medea is the Veronica - exotic Hot Witch. The set-up is played with as Jason never saw Atalanta as anything other than a friend - and Medea never knows about Atalanta's feelings for him.
- Billing Displacement: Natasha Henstridge gets third billing in the Hallmark film but has only 20 minutes of screentime out of 3 hours. Ditto for Derek Jacobi. The two of them only appear in part 1 of the unedited version.
- Black Dude Dies First: Echion in the Hallmark film lasted long enough to suggest they kill Acastus for stowing away before he was drowned by Poseidon. Averted with Orpheus who survives.
- Chekhov's Boomerang: The Thief already proves useful for snatching the Fleece. He also proves useful by revealing to have stolen Jason's amulet when he dropped it in Lemnos.
- Chekhov's Gun: In the Hallmark film, Jason's Amulet of Dependency it is a memento from his childhood and turns out to be the key that opens a secret tunnel to the palace, allowing the Argonauts to sneak in and surprise Pelias.
- Chekhov's Skill: "The legs are springs, the arms wings"
- Composite Character: The women of Lemnos are sort of combined with the Sirens. The Argonauts are portrayed as being hypnotised by them, with some kind of magic involved. Likewise another element from the Siren part of the adventure - Orpheus using his harp - happens instead when trying to get the Fleece. Here he uses it to lull the dragon guarding it to sleep.
- Death by Adaptation: Hercules, after pulling a You Shall Not Pass Heroic Sacrifice. As Jason cradles his body, it disappears and he becomes a constellation.
- Dirty Old Man: Argos, watching the women of Lemnos bathe.
- Driven to Suicide: Jason's mother hearing false news that he died.
- Dull Surprise: Jason London and Jolene Blalock in the Hallmark film.
- Evil Twin: Aspertes and Medea are definitely brother and sister but we don't know if they're twins
- Expository Hairstyle Change: Pelias's hair gets greyer the further along the story moves in the Hallmark film. Also Mopsus is shown with long shaggy hair and beard when Jason meets him. When the ship sets sail he has cut his hair short and shaved his beard.
- Fan Disservice: In the 60s film did we really have to see all the topless old men? And Hercules is definitely not a catch.
- Fanservice: The Isle of Lemnos in the Hallmark film. Also where Medea rubs magic oil onto Jason to protect him from the fiery breath of a bull.
- Five-Man Band: There are loads of Argonauts but the main group is as follows:
- Good Is Not Dumb: The majority of the situations the Argonauts get into are solved by Jason's quick thinking, like him creating a zipline for them to cross the gorge and tying a noose to the dragon guarding the Fleece.
- The High Queen: Hypsipyle, Queen of Lemnos. At least to her own people anyway.
- Hera is portrayed this way too. The film does play up her jealousy but it's mostly used to show that she and Zeus are both being idiots.
- Hot Witch: Medea in the Hallmark one.
- Identical Twin ID Tag: Pollux is bad, Castor has a beard and hair.
- Improbable Hairstyle: Pelias, Aetes, the Sage, we're looking at you.
- Incest Subtext: Between Medea and Aspyrtes as he seems especially jealous of Jason's attraction to her, and not just because it means losing the throne.
- Ironic Echo: "My destiny is to rule"
- Lady Land: The Isle of Lemnos. It turns out there used to be men but they were all killed, sacrificed to Artemis.
- Lady of Black Magic: Medea's portrayal here.
- Large Ham: Zetes in the Hallmark film and Acastus in the Harryhausen one.
- Last Girl Wins: Out of all the women Jason encounters in the film, Medea is the last and she is his love interest. Likewise Medea has grown up on Colchis - and Jason is also her Last Guy.
- Like Brother and Sister: Jason drops this on Atalanta. For an added sting, he says "you're as dear to me as a brother".
- The Lost Lenore: Orpheus's Eurydice - his love for her stops him from being seduced by the women of Lemnos.
- Loveable Rogue: In the Hallmark film a thief joins the crew and ends up taking the Fleece off its tree and finding Jason's lost amulet.
- Maybe Ever After: The thief and Atalanta get a lot of Ship Tease moments and some scenes hint that Atalanta might reciprocate his feelings notably when he catches feathers for her arrows. The two of them are seen standing together at the end of the film.
- Meaningful Echo: The Golden Fleece is referred to as "worth a kingdom". Towards the end of the movie Jason says the same thing about his amulet.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Medea reveals she can heal wounds when Acastus is shot with an arrow. She doesn't bother healing her brother though
- No Guy Wants an Amazon: Played with as Jason considers Atalanta to be a sister (he actually says brother) and rejects her romantic advances but Atalanta does catch the eye of the thief who stows on board.
- One of the Boys: Atalanta is the only woman on the ship, yet is treated as if she were one of the men (by everyone except the thief that is).
- Plucky Comic Relief: Castor and Pollux from the myth get bumped up to this.
- Psychic Link: Between Jason and Medea in the Hallmark film. A convenient plot device to introduce Medea earlier in the film.
- Race Lift: Orpheus is commonly imagined as white in Greek mythology. Here he is played by Anglo-African actor Adrian Lester.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Unlike in the myth where the Argonauts are famous heroes or princes prior to the quest, Jason mostly recruits peasants not as much for skills but for pluck. Castor and Pollux are stoneworkers. Odysseus's future dad Laertes is a cowherd who vaults over charging bulls for fun. Later he vaults straight into the dragon's mouth.
- Rapunzel Hair: Medea's long black tresses.
- Red Shirt Army: Several Argonauts die in the course of the film, even Hercules and old Argus himself. The body count snowballs as the film progress.
- Sadly Mythtaken: In this version, Hercules is Hera's son. In the original myths he was named for her, but that was pretty much to curry favor. Plus it didn't work, since she made his life a misery.
- Shout-Out: May be coincidental, but Orpheus is black and there happens to be a 1959 multi-awarded Brazilian film called Black Orpheus.
- Those Two Guys: Castor and Pollux
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Atalanta is the tomboy huntress while Medea is the girly girl princess.
- Turtle Island: How Poseidon appears in this version.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Atalanta towards Jason.
Mostly due to a common source, both of the films provide examples of:
- Ancient Grome: Set in Greece yet he calls himself Hercules. However averted when Eros appears; he's normally confused with his more famous Roman counterpart Cupid.
- Adaptational Villainy: Acastus gets a pretty rough deal in both adaptations. In the first he betrays the Argonauts to Aeetes and in the Hallmark film he steals the fleece and brings it to Pelias. He didn't betray them in the original myth and ended up becoming King in his father's place. He did end up banishing Medea from the kingdom, but then again she did cause his father's death...
- And really inverted with regards to Jason and Medea. Jason goes off to technically steal the fleece just so he can become King in the original myth but in the Hallmark film he must do it to save his mother's life. He didn't really love Medea either and only agreed to marry her to get the fleece, while the film shows him to genuinely love her. Medea as well was a Manipulative Bitch in the original myth and killed Pelias herself as part of a trick to become queen.
- Big Damn Heroes
- Blessed with Suck: Phineas is given the gift of making prophecies but has lost his eyesight.
- Blind Seer: Derek Jacobi's version even has his eyes sewed shut.
- Climbing the Cliffs of Insanity: Climbing down cliffs.
- Costume Porn: For the royal characters, anyway.
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Everyone Chasing You
- Face-Heel Turn: Acastus. Also King Aeetes when he finds out Jason wants the Fleece
- Harping on About Harpies: Both films feature the harpies stealing from Phineus's table - and the Argonauts having to defeat them. In the Harryhausen film they are far more ferocious, killing two Argonauts. They are killed when everyone makes the temple cave in on them.
- Jerkass Gods: Surprisingly averted in both cases - likely due to the original myth featuring one of Hera's positive portrayals. The Gods in the Harryhausen film seem friendly enough and Hera especially tries to stop Pelias from murdering a girl in her temple. She's quite willing to help Jason, though Zeus restricts the amount of times she may do so. In the Hallmark film, Zeus is a bit more Jerkass - but he and Hera are given an Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moment.
- MacGuffin: The Golden Fleece.
- Scenery Porn