Jason and the Argonauts [1963]

Arguably the most intelligently written film to feature the masterful stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen, Jason and the Argonauts is a colorful adventure that takes full advantage of Harryhausen's "Dynarama" process. Inspired by the Greek myth, the story begins when the fearless explorer Jason (Todd Armstrong) returns to the kingdom of Thessaly to make his rightful claim to the throne, but the gods proclaim that he must first find the magical Golden Fleece. Consulting Hera, the queen of gods, Jason recruits the brave Argonauts to crew his ship, and they embark on their eventful journey. Along the way they encounter a variety of mythic creatures, including the 100-foot bronze god Talos, the batlike Harpies, the seven-headed reptilian Hydra, and an army of skeletons wielding sword and shield. This last sequence remains one of the finest that Harryhausen ever created, and it's still as thrilling as anything from the age of digital special effects. Harryhausen was the true auteur of his fantasy films, and his brilliant animation evokes a timeless sense of wonder. Jason and the Argonauts is a prime showcase for Harryhausen's talent--a wondrous product of pure imagination and filmmaking ingenuity. The DVD contains an informative interview with Harryhausen by filmmaker John Landis. --Jeff Shannon

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