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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:
- Animate Dead: Aeetes summons the skeletons of warriors killed by the Hydra to stop the Argonauts.
- Chekhov's Gun: In both films, Jason receives an Amulet of Dependency, which is not from the myth. In the 1963 film, it is a gift used to call for Triton's aid in escaping the Clashing Rocks.
- Creator in Joke: In the original, the skeletons' shields depict creatures from Harryhausen's previous movies.
- Dem Bones: The skeleton fight scene.
- Demoted to Extra: In the Harryhausen film only Hercules, Hylas, Argus and Acastus receive any development whatsoever and other Argonauts are only mentioned by name.
- Divine Chessboard
- Executive Meddling: Harryhausen stated that he wanted to avoide the Italian muscle man stereotype present in films at that time when casting Hercules.
- Informed Ability: Euphemus is announced as "champion swimmer" and he only ever demonstrates said ability by jumping in the sea after Acastus. He drowns.
- Or Acastus killed him? That was pretty vague, really.
- Large Ham: King Aeëtes romps home with the prize. "DESTROY THEM! KILL! KILL, KILL, KILL THEM ALL!!!"
- Oh Crap: When Hercules realizes he has awaken Talos.
- One-Scene Wonder: Honor Blackman steals the show in the Harryhausen film, playing Hera.
- The Queen's Latin.
- Redshirt Army: Jason apparently picked the best athletes etc in Greece yet hardly any of them actually do anything interesting apart from the two who get killed by the skeletons at the end. Oh and the guy who jumped in after Acastus.
- It Gets Worse when you remember that all the Argonauts were powerful heroes and demigods in their own right, and several have their own myths independant of the Argonauts!
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The Harryhausen movie ends with the heroes escaping from the skeletons but we never see a resolution between Jason and Pelias. Apparently they were planning to make a sequel to focus on the rest of Jason's adventures but Harryhausen decided to do the Sinbad sequels instead.
The Hallmark film provides examples of:
- Adaptational Attractiveness: A pretty unique inversion. In mythology, Atalanta was a Hot Amazon with Hair of Gold 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
- Backup Twin: Jason London's twin Jeremy doubled for him a few times.
- Badass Long Hair: Jason in the Hallmark version but Hercules could fit the bill more suitably.
- Beard of Sorrow: Mopsus has grown one since Pelias took over.
- 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 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"
- The Danza: Jason London
- 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 Service: 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:
- Hey, It's That Guy!: The Hallmark film has Jason London as the hero, Dennis Hopper as his uncle, Angus Macfayden as Zeus, and Olivia Williams as Hera.
- Hot Witch: Medea in the Hallmark one.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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-Scene Wonder: Olivia Williams steals the show in the Hallmark film, coincidentally also playing Hera.
- Psychic Link: Between Jason and Medea in the Hallmark film. A convenient plot device to introduce Medea earlier in the film.
- 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.
- Redshirt Army: Several Argonauts die in the course of the film, even Hercules and old Argus himself. The body count snowballs as the film progress.
- 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
- Our Dragons Are Different
Mostly due to a common source, both of the films provide examples of:
- Ancient Grome: Set in Greece yet he calls himself Hercules.
- 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 she did kill his father...
- 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.
- 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
- MacGuffin: The Golden Fleece
- Scenery Porn