Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Giants of Thessaly (1960)

The story of Jason and the Argonauts was for many years a perennial favourite with film-makers and the Italian peplum or sword & sandal book of the late 50s and early 60s produced several versions. Including this 1960 effort, The Giants of Thessaly (I Giganti della Tessaglia).

Jason, the rightful king of Iolcus, must find the missing Golden Fleece otherwise the land will be destroyed by volcanoes. He leaves his wicked uncle behind to plot and cause trouble and sets off in the Argo.

Considering the many and varied adventures that awaited the Jason of mythology the surprising thing is that there’s not much adventure to be had in this movie. The heroes reach the island of Lemnos, inhabited by witches who have murdered all their menfolk. Some unlucky members of the crew get turned into sheep. They encounter the Cyclops. That’s pretty much it in the adventure department.

The scene where Jason retrieves the Golden Fleece by climbing a gigantic statue is one of the better sequences in the film.

There are endless discussions. More adventures and fewer discussions would definitely have helped.

The main problem seems to be that the movie takes the subject matter a bit too seriously. It’s afraid of being camp but these sorts of movies always work best when the camp factor is at a maximum. The acting is fairly dull as well which makes matters worse.

Of course the movie would undoubtedly be somewhat more enjoyable in a decent restored print. I saw a truly horrible public domain version. It’s also horribly dubbed. Director Riccardo Freda made some good gothic horror pictures, with The Horrible Dr Hichcock being particularly notable, but he just doesn’t manage to bring the story of Jason alive.

I love these types of movies but this one was generally pretty disappointing.

1 comment:

venoms5 said...

I tried to find the legit dvd for this one, but apparently it's OOP now. Are these screenshots from that DVD, D?

I enjoyed the movie enough and appreciated it for treading similar ground to JASON & THE ARGONAUTS. I didn't expect it to ever get too extravagant, though. Still, I thought it was one of the best of the genre.