Assignment for Tuesday, 09.08.20

Dear Cinemythologists,

On Tuesday, September 8, we stay with Clash of the Titans (1981), ruminating further on the film and building our cinematic literacy. Please do the following.


  • Review, as necessary, the prompts and readings for the previous class.

We’ll continue our discussion of the film by considering these readings, especially with an eye toward the value added of an animated approach to fantasy filmmaking.


  • Re-watch the opening sequence of Clash of the Titans (1981) — everything after Leo, the MGM mascot, roars until around the 00:02:18 mark, where the camera pans away from the receding ark to a soaring seagull.

As you watch, think about the various kinds of shots involved in this sequence, but not at the expense of taking in the sequence as a whole.


  • Review once again the opening sequence of Clash ’81, this time numbering and identifying the various shots in the sequence.

Your identification should take stock of the proximity of the camera to the subject (long, medium, close, etc.); the angle of the camera, where important (eye-level, high, low, etc.); and movement of the camera (pan, tilt, zoom, etc.).

Some additional suggestions:

  • DO make liberal use of the ol’ Pause-Play button.
  • DON’T sweat identifying every single shot. Make an effort, but if you don’t know what a shot is, move on to another. There are no penalties for being wrong.

In class we’ll review the sequence, compare notes, and discuss how this opening relates to the rest of the film — both as a collection of shots and as a prologue. (And, yes, this is all good practice for the Analysis assignment.)

Please let me know if you have questions.


Assignment for Thursday, 09.03.20

Dear Cinemythologists,

On Thursday, September 3, we begin our unit on Perseus on screen. Please do the following.


The film is streaming on Swank Digital Campus. Take notes as you see fit.


  • “What about Animation?” LAM Chapter 3 (“Types of Movies”), pp. 106–9.

This section will both gather up our thread about animation from our viewing of Mythopolis last Thursday and provide further context for Harryhausen’s special effects in Clash ’81. It’s up to you whether you want to read these pages before you watch the movie, or afterward.

  • In the Lap of the Gods,” aka Ray Harryhausen’s memoir, An Animated Life, Chapter 11 (Billboard Books, 2004).

Read this memoir after you watch the movie (not before). Clash ’81 was Harryhausen’s last film, so the chapter not only details the behind-the-scenes work on that project, but also caps his career. As you read, reflect on how you feel about the movie with this memoir in mind, as opposed to how you felt while watching it. I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about that.


  • Cullors, Rosenblum, Savage.

Use the comments feature on this post to recommend a sequence to be reviewed and discussed in class.

Recommendations should contain the following:

  • A brief description of the sequence.
  • Precise starting and ending times (hh:mm:ss — hh:mm:ss).
  • A rationale as to why this sequence is worth our time.


Assignment for Tuesday, 09.01.20

Dear Cinemythologists,

Tuesday, September 1, marks something of a transitional day for us. We’ll continue our exploration into how myth works, not only by way of the career of Theseus, but also that of Perseus, who is the subject of our first proper unit of screen texts.

Please do the following.


  • Plutarch, Life of Theseus, chapters 1–20 (pp. 13–27).

Plutarch, a Greek biographer, wrote during the height of the Roman Empire. He’s best remembered for his Parallel Lives, which pair the life of a prominent Greek figure with his (yes, his) Roman parallel or analogue. Theseus had as his parallel a Life of Romulus.

As you read the assigned selections, think about why Plutarch would write a biography of Theseus in the first place. Also, consider how the biographer handles divergent sources.

  • “Perseus” in the Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts.

The article has three parts: a general section on Perseus; a section on Perseus and Medusa; and a section on Perseus and Andromeda. Try to get a sense of what the general plot of any given Perseus myth is supposed to look like.

Each of these sections is followed by an annotated list of relevant visual and literary works. Don’t sweat the details of these lists, but do peruse them and see if you can identify any trends. What aspects of the myth seem to inspire later artists and writers?

  • Ovid, Metamorphoses 4–5 on Perseus

Ovid’s version of the Perseus myth dates to the beginning of the first century CE. As is typical, he begins in the middle of things, starting with the god Bacchus, but soon making his way to Perseus’ grandfather, Acrisius. If the Oxford Guide offers a rather straightforward account of Perseus’ story, what do you make of Ovid’s less-than-straightforward version?

  • (Optional) The Oxford Reference database on Plutarch, Ovid, Theseus, Perseus, or whatever else needs further context (via Scribner Library; credentials required)

Entries from the Oxford Classical Dictionary are especially useful. Oxford Reference is an excellent alternative to Wikipedia and should be part of your scholarly tool kit. And perusing it is an excellent way to stoke your intellectual curiosity.


Assignment for Thursday, 08-27-20

Dear Cinemythologists,

For Thursday, August 27, please do the following.


  • Looking at Movies (LAM), chapter 1, pp. 2–15, 23–28.

These excerpts will introduce fundamental principles of engaged viewership and ground them in a discussion of the Star Wars series (which might occupy a different Myth on Screen course in its own right).

  • Jon Solomon’s 2007 essay, “Viewing Troy: Authenticity, Criticism, Interpretation” (excerpts).

We’ll revisit this piece in full later in the semester, but for now, try to take to heart what Solomon says about ways NOT to watch movies, and the banal critiques that less-than-engaged viewers often level at films.

Please bring any questions to class next time. Pay particular attention to the Policies, which I went over in less detail in class.


Reflect on a book you love, that was later adapted into a film or television show. As best as you can, try to recall some of your original reactions to seeing the adaptation. In particular, what did you make of the inevitable changes to the original’s themes, motifs, plot and characters?

Write down some of your reactions, and be prepared to share them next class.



Dear Cinemythologists,

Welcome to the Classical Myth on Screen blog, which I’ll use to shape the ongoing narrative of our course. Here you’ll find details on our assignments, announcements and notifications, and general musings on classics, the cinema, and related topics. As a rule of thumb, I’ll keep the blog updated at least one week in advance.

If you’d like to reply to a post, please use the “Comments” feature. Everyone in the class will be able to read your response.

None of this is meant to substitute for in-class interaction. However, since our sessions together will go by quickly, I hope the blog will save us time here and there.

Again, welcome!