Rose cites the repeated imagery of flying in the film, finding that this matches what critic Philip Slater says about the Freudian and phallic images in the Perseus myth. Rose refers to this film, and several others of a similar nature, as modern versions of the myths, to a degree cut down from the original in order to something more visceral and more direct. In a film like this, the student has "an opportunity for assessing the concrete differences between the ideological norms of male-female relations in their own society and those explored in ancient Greek myth" (Rose 310).
Stephen R. Wilk considers the film and the way it is designed and also finds elements of the Greek period in the film. He refers tom the designs of special efercts artist Raym Harryhausen when he notes, "Critics have dismissed this sort of animation as 'kitsch,' but I note that Harryhausen often brings to life figures very similar to those in the Greek vase paintings" (Wilk 209). Wilk at the same time notes the way the filmmakers take liberties with the details of the mythological story, such as having Perseus travel on Pegasus instead of using the flying slippers, and with a two-headed Cerberus rather than the three-headed creature of myth. In the myth, Andromeda is supposed to marry the human Phineus, while in the film, the groom is the monstrous Calibos: "The sea monster, here called the Kraken (!!), and Medusa herself are imagined as very different creatures from any previous representations, ancient or modern" (Wilks 210). At the same time, the essentials of the original story are maintained to a greater degree than for other film versions of the ancient myths. The film begins in Argos as Acrisius casts out his daughter and her child, the infant Perseus, angering the gods (and specifically Zeus) by the way he treats his own daughter.
Certain silly elements are added for the film, such as the mechanical bird that only Perseus can understand, and the three Graiae, whom Wilks sees as mirroring the three witches in Macbeth and not mythology at all. The mythology of the Greeks is tied directly to the astronomical system left to us by the Greeks, meaning the fact that "the principal figures are immortalized in constellations" (Wilks 214).
Amy T. Peterson and David J. Dunworth trace many of the mythic stories and characters through various media depictions and note many of the mythic creatures that are used in films because they are visual and startling, such as Medusa, the sphinx, and the harpies, creatures depicted in different ways over time. Some of the creatures shown in Clash of the Titans derive from the original source material (such as Medusa), while others have been shifted from one story to another (as with the Kraken). These authors also note the way these myths often involve man-animal hybrids. Such hybrids are se3en in Clash of the Titans, including cases where the god or goddess can turn into an animal, as Hermes does in the beginning as he is a bird and follows the events below before flying to Olympus to report to Zeus.
Clash of the Titans is a film that draws its plot from Greek mythology and that maintains some of the deeper psychological and social meaning of these myths. The film makes changes for dramatic effect but does not veer too far away from the original, especially in terms of themes that are evoked as the human beings try to satisfy the willful nature of the gods.
Davis, Desmond. Clash of the Titans. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1981.
Peterson, Amy T. And David J. Dujnworth. Mythology in Our Midst: A Guide to Cultural References. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2004.
Rose, Peter W. "Teaching Classical Myth and Confronting Contemporary Myths. In Classical Myth & Culture in the Cinema, Martin M. Winkler (ed.), 291-318. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.