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Taking aim at the Western tradition.

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By Govindini Murty. This past Memorial Day weekend we all paid homage to the brave men and women who have fought to defend America and Western democracy. As I reflected on their sacrifice this past weekend, I thought that while our troops continue to make every effort to physically protect America and Western civilization – there is no-one out there making a comparable effort to protect our cultural and artistic traditions from their anti-Western attackers.

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For example, in the past two months alone we have had two major Hollywood movies – Robin Hood, directed by Ridley Scott, and the remake of Clash of the Titans – that have brazenly sought to undermine two beloved Western mythic figures who represent freedom, heroism, and individuality: Robin Hood and Perseus. To understand how deplorable this is in the midst of a War on Terror, in which Western civilization itself is under attack, one need only compare the remakes of Robin Hood and Clash of the Titans to their originals. Both the original Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and the original Clash of the Titans (1981) affirmed Western freedom and democratic values against the backdrop of totalitarian menace – the original Robin Hood against the growing threat of the Nazi menace in Europe, and Clash of the Titans in the dark years of the Cold War against the Soviet Communist menace.

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Michael Curtiz’s The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) – starring the dashing Errol Flynn and the lovely Olivia de Havilland – is a colorful, joyous version of the Robin Hood myth that is also a stirring paean for freedom and democracy.   England and America may not yet have been at war with Nazi Germany, but the threat of fascism was growing on the European continent, and Warner Brothers – perhaps the most socially and politically prescient of the Hollywood studios – felt this threat and made films to challenge it.  Looked at today against the backdrop of European fascism of the ’30s, it is easy to see how Robin Hood and his Merry Men represented the freedom-loving British people, while Prince John represented the Nazi and Fascist dictators who operated outside the law to enslave democratic nations. When Errol Flynn as Robin Hood gives his rousing speech to the English people urging them to stand up and fight for freedom, it takes on a special poignance when one considers that a year later England would be at war with the Nazis and facing invasion of their homeland.

Medusa, from the original "Clash of the Titans."

Moving forward several decades, the 1980s featured some extraordinary films that celebrated Western freedom and individuality in the dark days of the Cold War. 1981, the year Clash of the Titans was released, was just two years after the Soviets had invaded Afghanistan and Iran had fallen to a radical Islamic theocracy. The Western economies were still mired in inflation and malaise from the leftist mismanagement of the ’70s, and even though Ronald Reagan had just been elected the American president in 1980, no-one knew what a spectacular success Reagan would be in standing up to the Soviet threat. The Soviets seemed as strong as ever, and the Western media daily claimed that the West was doomed to nuclear war with Communist Russia if it didn’t unilaterally disarm.  Indeed, all seemed gloomy, but in the popular culture – in a sort of intuitive artistic response – George Lucas was making his spectacular, optimistic Star Wars films (which were widely understood to be an allegory for America’s struggle against the Soviet Union) and Ray Harryhausen made his magical and inspiring Clash of the Titans.

Harry Hamlin as Perseus in the original "Clash of the Titans."

Clash of the Titans tells the story of the Greek hero Perseus, one of the most important mytho-poetic figures in the entire Western tradition. Perseus represents the rational, heroic Western individual who defeats the forces of irrational, chthonian evil – as represented by Medusa and the Kraken sea monster – in order to rescue the beautiful Princess Andromeda, the embodiment of love, marriage, and civilized domesticity. In Greek mythology, Perseus is the first of the great Greek heroes, and through his marriage to Princess Andromeda, his descendants would include many of the most notable heroes and warriors of the Greek tradition – from Hercules to Agamemnon. Perfectly played by Harry Hamlin, Perseus has all the qualities of heroism, handsomeness, and intelligence that one could hope for in a hero.  [Jason and I saw Harry Hamlin speak in person at a screening of Clash of the Titans some years ago at the Egyptian Theater in L.A., and we were both struck by how articulate he was in discussing the mythic and literary themes of the film.]  Clash of the Titans also features an extraordinary array of female characters – from the beautiful and intelligent Princess Andromeda, played by Judi Bowker, to the vain and proud Queen Cassiopeia, played by British theater legend Sian Philipps, to the Goddesses Thetis, Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena played by such talented actresses as Maggie Smith, Claire Bloom, Ursula Andress, and Susan Fleetwood. And who can forget Laurence Olivier as the most authoritative, witty, and wiley Zeus ever?

And of course, the original Clash of the Titans featured the extraordinary animation of Ray Harryhausen. (And Ray is every bit as charming and fascinating in person as his creations are on screen.) Harryhausen’s imaginative stop-motion animation of the mythological monsters and divine creatures in Clash of the Titans – Medusa, the Kraken, Pegasus, Bubo, Calibos, Charon, Cerberus, et al – gives the film an uncanny, dream-like quality that no computer effects can match today.   There is something about the tactile physicality of Harryhausen’s creations – and the strange, intuitive intelligence he imbues them with – that lends a considerable portion of the charm to Clash of the Titans. Harryhausen’s creations are unreal and yet real at the same time, and thus they act as the bridge between our waking lives and our dreams.

Prototype of the Western mythological hero.

Ray Harryhausen intended Clash of the Titans to be the crowning statement of his career. It is also one of the better articulations in cinema of the bravery, individuality, beauty, and freedom that lie at the heart of the Western tradition.

Now in the midst of the War on Terror, Hollywood seems bent on reversing these pro-Western, pro-freedom messages.   In the new Robin Hood (2010) directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe as Robin Hood and Cate Blanchett as Marion (no longer a maid), all magic and romance is removed from the film and replaced with a thudding, literal-minded revisionism.   King Richard the Lionheart is not the figure of purity and nobility as in the original Adventures of Robin Hood, but is a drunken, bloated wreck who is guilt-ridden over killing Muslims in the Holy Land.   And Robin Hood is not the dashing, puckish, green man of the wood who leaps over parapets and climbs castle walls to woo lovely ladies – but is a dour archer who lectures King Richard in front of his entire army about killing innocent Muslim women and children in the Holy Land.   In a completely nauseating scene from Scott’s film, Robin stands up to King Richard and describes how as he and the English army killed over 1300 Muslim women and children, a Muslim woman had looked up at him pityingly – for she knew “That from that moment on, we were godless.”   (As an aside: one wonders why Western liberals like Ridley Scott who so consistently deride Christianity and belief in God are nonetheless so eager to affirm Muslim religiosity.)   Also in this new Robin Hood, Robin is not really Sir Robin of Loxely, but is instead a lowly army deserter who steals the armor and identity of the real Robin of Loxely (how post-modern!) in order to impersonate him in England – so he can avoid capture by the king’s army.

He wrote the Magna Carta, too.

If that isn’t enough, in a bizarre addition to the plot, Robin Hood is now not simply a hero who stands up for British freedom, but is also a social legislator responsible for promoting the Magna Carta!   Apparently this new Robin Hood had a father who was killed when Robin Hood was a child (because every liberal hero must have a childhood trauma – preferably revealed in desaturated, slow-motion flashbacks), who had drafted a British bill of rights that would become the Magna Carta.  It’s as if Ridley Scott doesn’t believe the basic myth of Robin Hood is sufficient to entertain audiences – Robin must also be a proponent of socially conscious legislation as well.  (Robin Hood as Nancy Pelosi.)   The left always complains about Christians being literal-minded and taking the Bible as actual history – but here a leftist director does the exact same thing by taking the myth of Robin Hood and turning it into literal, political history. By making it literal, Ridley Scott drains the Robin Hood myth of all symbolic resonance and imaginative power. The remake of Robin Hood thus undermines the traditional story of Robin Hood and turns it into sour, charmless, political propaganda.

The same process of undermining and revisionism is carried out in the remake of Clash of the Titans (2010) released this past April. Whereas in the original Clash of the Titans the hero Perseus respects the gods and accepts their help when he embarks on his quest to capture the head of Medusa and save Andromeda, in the remake Perseus (played by the blank, bland Sam Worthington) hates the gods and rejects their gifts. Also in the remake the gods are almost completely unconcerned with humanity, and Zeus has even forgotten that he has a son named Perseus!  All the warm concern for humanity shown by Laurence Olivier’s Zeus in the original Clash of the Titans, all the efforts of the gods and goddesses to arm Perseus with magic gifts to help him in his heroic stand-off with Medusa (magic gifts that are in themselves symbols for all the good things the gods give humanity), are almost completely removed in the remake.  In the remake, Perseus and the other mortals repeatedly state how much they hate the gods, and Perseus (who doesn’t even look Greek and sports an anachronistic crewcut) contemptuously rejects Zeus’ gifts and treats Zeus with insolence when the god comes down from heaven to speak with him.

Angry young man: Sam Worthington in the new "Clash of the Titans."

The remake of Clash of the Titans further undermines the myth of Perseus by eliminating his romance with Andromeda and cutting down her role to a mere cameo. Andromeda’s chief significance now in the remake is that she wanders around Argos feeding scraps of bread to the poor.   [This is ostensibly to show that Andromeda has a social conscience, which is all the filmmakers leave her with after cutting her role down to nothing.]  Worse yet, all the female goddesses who play such important roles in the original Clash of the Titans – Thetis, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite – are removed entirely from the remake. The only divine figures who get to speak now in the new Clash of the Titans are male gods – Zeus, Hades, and Apollo. In addition, the important mother figures of Danae and Queen Cassiopeia are killed off early in the remake (they’re not killed at all in the original).   This elimination or ‘downsizing’ of seven important female characters is supposed to be made up for by the inclusion of one new female character, an immortal being named Io. However, since Io is basically depicted as an action figure who is “just one of the boys,” she does not make up for the loss of the symbolically rich female figures from the original.   Further, by removing the romance between Perseus and Andromeda, the remake of Clash of the Titans also eliminates (by way of extension) all the related stories of Perseus and Andromeda’s many famous descendants.   Thus the myth of Perseus is denuded of all complexity and meaning and is literally rendered sterile – for Sam Worthington’s Perseus is a bland, sexless creature more interested in violence than women, and thus can hardly be imagined to have descendants at all. What a telling metaphor for modern Hollywood’s sterile cinematic efforts.

Pseudo-Islamic warriors from the new "Clash of the Titans."

But worst of all, in the midst of a War on Terror against a barbaric, non-Western, irrational enemy, the remake of Clash of the Titans features a band of heroic Islamic suicide bombers as the friends and saviors of Perseus!   Yes, that’s right: in the remake of Clash of the Titans, Perseus refuses the help of Zeus and all the Greek gods – but he does accept the help of a group of mystical, half-dead Islamic figures known as the Djinn. (Not only that, but the film also takes ugly potshots at Hindus by depicting a thinly-disguised Hindu priest as a fanatical, murderous zealot in Argos; no doubt this is because India is America’s ally in the War on Terror, and so now Hindus – who form the majority religion of India and who are also victims of Islamic terrorism – have to be defamed as well.)   For example, when Perseus is attacked by a giant scorpion in the middle of the desert and infected with deadly venom, he angrily refuses the help of the Greek gods – but lets the Islamic Djinn cure him with a mystic blue flame.

Later, when Perseus is facing off against Medusa in Hades, it is the leader of the Djinn – a figure named Shiekh Sulieman – who heroically blows himself up in order to distract Medusa and allow Perseus to kill her. To make this absolutely clear that Shiekh Sulieman is, indeed, a suicide bomber, the camera focusses on the Djinn’s midsection as a mystic blue flame explodes outward from his abdomen (like a bomb belt), blowing him up.   This suicide bombing is depicted as the crucial act that allows Perseus to capture the head of Medusa, save Andromeda, and defeat the Kraken.  Thus, one of the pivotal symbolic acts of Western mythology is credited to the help of an Islamic suicide bomber.   It should be noted here that the Djinn’s blue flame that heals is also the blue flame that kills – a creepy conflation of life and death that is straight out of the symbolism of the German Romantic-Decadent movement and its barbaric progeny, the Nazis.   One of the primal myths of Western heroism and individuality is now turned into a disgusting apologia for suicide bombing, terrorism, and totalitarianism.

Our brave troops past and present have defended our country and our liberty, and for this we honored them this past Memorial Day. Now who will make good their sacrifice and defend our Western cultural traditions from Hollywood’s suicidal, anti-Western assault?

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12 Responses to “Robin Hood, Clash of the Titans and the Undermining of the Western Hero”

  1. Interesting analysis. I saw “Robin Hood,” thought it had promise, but it was botched by Ridley Scott. He should have done more with the romance between Robin and Marion, and the plot twists at the end were ridiculous! Also, why go after the French so much? Bizarre …

    • Thanks Prehistoric Woman – I would agree with you here. Ridley Scott had a good opportunity, but as usual he went the dour “Kingdom of Heaven”/”Gladiator” route with the film and cut out all the romance and sense of fun and adventure that there could have been in the film.

      And yes, the French must have been outraged by how they were represented in the film. Apparently there was a huge controversy at Cannes over its screening. How insensitive could the film’s producers have been to screen the film at Cannes when it basically depicts the French as marauding war criminals?

  2. Trojan Horse says:

    There are no real men in the movies anymore. Heroism is over for the post-mo crowd.

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mr. K, Libertas Film Mag. Libertas Film Mag said: New LFM Post: Robin Hood, Clash of the Titans and the Undermining of the Western Hero … See: [...]

  4. Claude says:

    In typical American fashion “Robin Hood” objectifies the French by making them into “the swarthy, unwashed other.” Perhaps this is the “tea party” cinema as some have claimed since it vilifies those dangerous European “elites.”

    • Govindini Murty says:

      Perhaps Claude – hadn’t really thought of it that way – but if you’re French, yes I could definitely see how you’d be offended. The French are depicted in the film as marauding and looting their way through the English countryside and killing civilians and attempting to rape women … I didn’t really understand why Ridley Scott was depicting them this way, but then I wondered if he’s angry at the French right now because they elected the conservative Nicholas Sarkozy. Perhaps it’s an anti-Sarkozy dig? Hard to say.

  5. K says:

    Thanks for your take on these pictures and the “sucker punches” contained therein. I don’t remember any other critics pointing this out and it’s the kind of thing I like to know before seeing a movie. Fortunately, I missed both of these just based on the reviews and reputation of the directors, but it was possible that I would have wasted a few bucks on a DVD rental. Thanks again, I don’t need the annoyance of message movies by moral idiots.

    One wonders how much Islamic money is being invested in Hollywood behind the scenes these days to keep the old propaganda machine going. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Hollywood isn’t getting any money and are just doing this on their own – which makes them a really cheap lay – but we knew that.

    • Govindini Murty says:

      K – Thanks for your comment! We aim to provide the truth here on Libertas about the real messages in the films that are out there right now. I agree, I too am tired of all the “sucker punches” in big films today. They lure you in with a story that seems to be about a classic character like Robin Hood or Perseus, and then they sneak in their propaganda and just ruin the story.

      I don’t know if it’s because there is Islamic money in these films – I just think Hollywood is just doing all this on their own. Anyway, lots more on this subject coming up.

  6. Andrew Winkless says:

    At last someone gives the execrable Clash of the Titans remake the thrashing it so greatly deserves (haven’t seen Robin Hood, but don’t have any expectations of it). I have never before seen a remake where every single aspect that is different from the original, point for point, is much worse. Even the effects are not especially better. The writers clearly knew nothing and cared less about Greek mythology, and not much about the original movie either. With the exception of 300(which if memory serves the critics didn’t like), I don’t believe hollywood has ever made a good movie about greek mythology/history since Clash of the Titans (the 80’s version).

    What I would truly like to know, however, is why Hollywood insists on expunging all supernatural elements from the story of the Trojan war, and for that matter taking the side of the Trojans. The entire story ceases to make sense if the gods aren’t involved and simultaneously loses any value. I would dearly like to see a Frank Miller Troy film: he seems to get the point: the important thing about the battle of Thermopylae, even at the TIME, was not the fact so much as they myth and the inspiration it provided to all Greece. By treating Thermopylae as a myth he did it more justice than any of the more ‘realistic’ attempts. Conversely, Hollywood tries to make Troy movies ‘historical’ and about geopolitics.

    Oh, and a final note to Hollywood: get your grubby paws off King Arthur. I don’t particularly care if a historically ‘real’ Arthur would have been a grubby Romano-Celtic semi barbarian, that is not the point of the story. You don’t have to exactly mimic Excalibur, but look up the words ‘knight’ and ‘chivalry’ before you start.

    • Excellent points Andrew – I couldn’t agree with you more. It was dreadful what they did to “Robin Hood” and “Clash of the Titans,” and equally dreadful what they did to the story of Troy (though at least there was no pro-terrorist message in that that I could discern). And now they are going to ruin the story or King Arthur as well? Unbelievable.

      Hollywood’s Baby Boomer leftists are still stuck in the anti-Western rebellion of the 1960s, and they are the ones who are now hiring a new generation of writers and directors to ruin all these classic Western stories today. It is a deliberate effort to undermine everything we believe in so that we will then be persuaded to believe their political propaganda. And no, they have complete contempt for Greek mythology (and anything else that is part of the traditional Western canon) because they consider its stories of individual heroism and divine favor too damaging to their efforts at secular collectivism.

      At least “300,” as you point out, stayed true to the mythic/heroic dimensions of what the Battle of Thermopylae has meant to the West. Let’s hope that more creative figures like Frank Miller emerge in the film industry to undo the damage of the cultural revisionists.

      • Curtin/Dobbs says:

        Great and insightful article Ms. Murty and I’m so glad that you guys are back up and running. One of your most telling observations to me was an aside: “(As an aside: one wonders why Western liberals like Ridley Scott who so consistently deride Christianity and belief in God are nonetheless so eager to affirm Muslim religiosity.)” This self-flagelation of the West coupled with veneration of non-Western peoples and beliefs has been a head shaking irritant to me for as long as I can remember. And they cheat, too–most famously in AVATAR, where the blue folks beliefs are real, rather than based on Faith. It even pops up in routine Disney faire like BROTHER BEAR, where the Native American beliefs play out for all to see. Another example of (needless) Western bashing from Disney is LILO AND STITCH, which nonetheless is a favorite film in my household. The unappealing human characters in the movie are all unattractive American white people (except for Elvis Presley), and everything’s played for irreverent comedy except for hula dancing, which the filmmmakers went to great lengths to depict with respect and authenticity. I could go on and on with other examples from countless films, but I’ll spare you. What Good is taken away from American movies by Americans, aspiring Americans and the rest of the World?

  7. Govindini Murty says:

    Thank you, Curtin/Dobbs! It’s nice to be back and it’s fun to get back in touch with our Libertas readers. And yes, you make a very good point. I didn’t know that this stuff was creeping into Disney cartoons like “Brother Bear” and “Lilo and Stitch” as well. I will have to check it out. American movies used to be a force for good in the world, and it’s very disturbing now that the most anti-American movies … are made right here in America, by liberals who then claim that anti-Americanism overseas is what makes them put it into their own films. Give me a break. Well, Libertas is here to expose all of this. Thanks for reading!

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