Open Wounds

J is for Jason (and the Argonauts)

The 1963 version of Jason and the Argonauts has an army of skeletons attack Jason and his sturdy argonaut crew. The skeletons area  a creation of special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen. I saw this movie as a kid and it made my jaw drop open in absolute amazement. They looked real – still better than any CGI effects you can see today. They made the movie come to life. They made the whole hero’s journey work for me even though the lead, Todd Armstrong, was far from charismatic as Jason.

And the hero’s journey is what Jason is all about. Here’s a short-hand version of his life:

Jason is related to Odysseus (the hero of the Odyssey – not a bad lineage), tossed out of his kingdom by his uncle Pelion, is raised by the centaur Chiron, gets helped by Hera (always problematic), becomes the man with one sandal (kind of like the man with no name from a spaghetti western), goes on a quest for the golden fleece (just like Percy Jackson), gathers a band of burly argonauts including Heracles, Theseus, and the poet Orpheus (why is a poet on this adventure?), gets help from Athena (I thought she only helped women?), meets Medea and falls in love with her, plows a field with two fire-breathing bulls (one of which was in heat), sows the field with the teeth of a dragon (these become the skeletons in the movie!), snatches the golden fleece (snatches is a word that needs to get used more), marries Medea, takes his kingdom back from Pelion by tricking Pelion’s daughters into cutting him up into little bits and eating him (talk about issues for therapy) – take a breath from this long run-on sentence – has children of his own then falls in love with another woman (he can’t keep his you-know-what in his loin cloth), has Medea leave him after she in a fit of anger kills off all their own children, and finally ends up alone and lonely and kills himself by dropping off the end of his old ship the Argo. Whew. The hero’s journey.

Things need to happen to your hero/heroine. Whether it’s the journey to the corner drugstore, or the journey inside her head. Hero’s get chased by skeletons, big and small, real and imaginary and like Jason, they conquer or get conquered, grow, learn, or get dashed against the harsh realities of their existence. What is your hero’s journey like?

I can tell you this… mine will have white boned creatures with round shields and scimitars in there somewhere.

11 responses

  1. I remember when you first talked about that scene. It’s really is some wonderful cinecmatography.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:15 am

    • It’s funny but a good as CGI is I wonder if it would be better than what Harryhausen did in this case. There’s something uncanny about the way the beasties interact with the humans…

      April 11, 2012 at 7:49 am

      • They used stop-motion, right? I suppose I could look it up, but I’m sure you know.

        April 11, 2012 at 8:01 am

      • it is. here’s the link on youtube. – Max and I just watched it. He’s at work with me today…

        April 11, 2012 at 11:25 am

      • That’s the best kind of workday! Hi Max.

        April 11, 2012 at 11:32 am

      • Max is creating art on his 3DS. He nodded and said, “Ayuh.”

        April 11, 2012 at 12:02 pm

  2. Wht a good post, Joe. Perfect choice for showing action in a story. loved the reference to watching the movie when you were a child. “I saw this movie as a kid and it made my jaw drop open in absolute amazement.” Is there any critique more honest than a child’s jaw dropping open?

    Have a great Wednesday.

    April 11, 2012 at 7:35 am

    • Glad you liked the post and you have a great Wednesday too! Best – Joe

      April 11, 2012 at 7:48 am

  3. I loved that movie as a kid. Still do.

    Great blog and great theme for the month!

    I am trying to read all the A to Z blogs, but coming back to the ones I really like.
    Looking forward to seeing what you do all month!

    The Other Side
    The Freedom of Nonbelief

    April 12, 2012 at 10:30 am

    • Thanks, Tim. I just looked up the scene on youtube and showed it to my son (9). It’s still holds up well. Best – Joe

      April 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      • It sure does. The moment when the skeletons go from walking in lock step, to suddenly rushing the guys, is totally awesome.

        April 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm

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