Monday, November 29, 2010

'Clash of the Titans' (2010) - Evolution of a Script Pt.1

by Tristan Mahlow

Post based upon the Script dated March 06, 2003 'First Draft' by John Glenn & Travis Wright

'Clash of the Titans' is not a bad movie. But is not a good movie either. It is a mediocre movie with the potential for greatness. In the following weeks I want to analyse the movie from different perspectives, looking for clues why and where this potential got lost.
In this series of articles I want to chart the evolution of the 'Clash of the Titans' scripts with its many revisions up to the finished film. I will present the differences between the scripts and the movie, what I think about the changes made and if they - in my opinion - could have improved the movie.

1. Script Summary
2. Analysis
3. Conclusion
4. Questions

1. Script Summary
Calabus, the fallen and disgraced son of Hera, is out for the destruction of the world. Only the city of Phoenicia stands in his way anymore. In the gruesome siege we get to know Perseus, a conscript, just trying to survive in this madness. As Fate goes, he is send on a mission by Queen Cassiopeia to bring a parchment to the Sisters of Fate. He gathers his best friends (Nico & Ammon), thinking this is the best way to desert the doomed city. But the group is joined by Princess Andromeda and she guilts them into actually delivering the parchment. Upon arriving at the Sisters of Fate, Perseus learns that he is the only one who can stop Calabus and his army. To defeat him he needs the head of Medusa. Unbekownst to the group they are overheard by Calabus and he decides to follow them. This starts the dangerous journey of our heroic group, they cross a desert and have to survive an oasis filled with monsters (Nico gets killed and revived). They reach the Forest of Darkness, fighting against all kinds of mythological creatures, all while Andromeda and Perseus admit their love for each other. Ammon dies a heroic death, but Perseus now believes in the gods. He flies over the river Styx, kills Medusa and returns, only to find his group ambushed by Calabus. The Pegasus sacrificies himself to save Perseus, but nonetheless Andromeda and the head of Medusa fall into the hands of Calabus. Perseus is poisened and nearly dies, when - all of the sudden - Ammon returns! It turns out he was Apollo all along, protecting Perseus in the name of his father, Zeus. Back at Phoenicia Calabos orders the city to be burned down, only to be stopped by Perseus. Fighting commences! With the help of the returned Pegasus and the head of Medusa, he won back, Perseus can turn Calabus' army into stone. In a desperate attempt to win, Calabus kills Andromeda. Blind of rage, Perseus kills Calabus. His mother Hera is not amused and cracks open the earth, to release The Kraken. Perseus uses his demi-god powers and throws a bolt of lightning and kills the beast. The dust settles, the battle is won and Zeus appears, resurrecting Andromeda. We end with Perseus reigning as king of a prosperous Phoenicia and his queen Andromeda bearing their first child.

2. Analysis
What worked:
- Constant threat: Calabus is not a deep character, but a good villain. His motivation isn't really fleshed out, but he just needs to drive the action forward. By deafeating him, Perseus achieves a real goal. 
- Change in motivation: At first Perseus just wants to flee the city, in order to save his own live. He is pressured into delivering the parchment, But when he learns of his destiny, he willingly accepts it and grows to be the hero. Which leads me to:
- Change in character: Perseus goes from the selfish, non-believer to the heroic son of Zeus. His change is enough to be interesting.
- The Love Aspect: It is pretty straightforward: the hero and the only girl get together and fall in love. No disctractions, nothing surprising.

What didn't work:
- Everbody lives: Although it is nice that everybody gets their Happy Ever After, it feels strange that every death (except Calabus') is reversed throughout the script. It would feel more dangerous, if some deaths were permanent.
- The whole conflict between Hera and Zeus is never really explained.
- The question wether man should be a pawn for the gods (asked on page 2 of the script) is never really answered; I think the script doesn't care.

3. Conclusion
The First Draft of 'Clash of the Titans' is a simple, well-constructed Hero's Journey. All the ingredients are there: the reluctant hero, the beautiful princess, the dark villain, the sidekicks and the goal to save the world. The characters are a little to cookie-cutter most of the time, the dialogues are not shakespearian, but this is a Blockbuster-Action-Film-Script. And as such it delivers. There are action sequences throughout the whole film, culminating in a big satisfying showdown involving Calabus, his army and the Kraken.

4. Questions
- Is the story to well-known, to unoriginal to be interesting?
- What would you have changed? And what kept?
- Would you have rather have seen this movie in cinemas this year?

1 comment:

  1. Hey! Do could you please put in a link to the 2003 script? I can't seem to find it anywhere and I'm really interested in it for academic reasons!