After participating in World War II, the legendary special-effects master Ray Harryhausen returned to the US and began work on a series of short stop-motion films based on fairy tales, mainly Mother Goose, but also this retelling of the ancient Greek story of King Midas.
In this version, set not in ancient but in medieval times, the king (who looks a lot like a depressed King Friday) broods over his wealth and desires ever more. He even neglects his radiant daughter Marigold who picks him beautiful yellow flowers everyday. (This inclusion of a flower-loving daughter who is turned to gold is inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s retelling of the story in A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys from 1852).
As Midas greedily guards his gold in his storehouse, a mysterious alien-like “stranger” in a vampire cape magically appears and grants him his longed-for powers. This figure was apparently based on Max Schreck’s makeup for the 1922 German film “Nosferatu,” directed by F. W. Murnau. He takes the place of the satyr Silenus in the ancient version of the myth and stands out as an anomaly in this otherwise fairly traditional telling.
Of course, the curse of the golden touch quickly reveals itself, and after Midas turns Marigold to gold, the stranger again appears and informs Midas that he can undo his powers by bathing in the river and sprinkling his daughter with its water. And with that, the pair live happily ever after.
Harryhausen referred to this and his other fairy tale productions, which also include a version of The Tortoise and the Hare that was begun in 1952 but left unfinished until 2002, as his “teething rings.” Of course he would go on thereafter to create some of the most memorable monsters and mythical creatures on film in blockbuster productions like “Jason and the Argonauts” and “Clash of the Titans.”
This is the first of many Greek and Roman-inspired episodes that have been produced in the Scooby Doo franchise.
In this episode the gang takes a trip to Greece and on their visit to Helios Island they meet some natives who are terrified of the Minotaur that is ravaging the island. The Minotaur lives in a temple and chases the gang through a labyrinthine maze. In the end, the talking Minotaur is revealed to be local man Nick Papas, who was attempting to smuggle treasures from the island and on to the black market.
This three-part episode of The Simpsons features perhaps the best known of all animated treatments of Homer’s Odyssey. Entitled “D’oh, Brother Where Art Thou?”, this seven-minute retelling begins with the ruse of the Trojan Horse and the sack of Troy. Of course, Homer Simpson takes on the role of the hero and the show’s well-known cast of characters are placed in roles that suit their personalities (e.g., Patty and Selma as the Sirens; Disco Stu as a suitor). As expected, the humor is clever and satirical, with jokes that are mainly intelligible to an adult audience, such as the band Styx’s song “Lady” playing as Homer/Odysseus travels through the Underworld, exclaiming “This truly is Hell!” The humor is also suggestive at times: the suitor “Discus Stu,” for example, appears to proposition Bart/Telemachus in a nod to the ancient Greek practice of pederasty.
This very short film is based on the contents of P. Oxy 5189, a fragment of a 6th c. CE Greek mime that was preserved on papyrus and discovered in the town of Oxyrhynchus in Egypt.
This animation was conceived of and produced as part of a project entitled “Broken Scenes: Resurrecting Ancient Fragmented Voices Through Animation” that was sponsored by the University of Oxford Department of Papyrology. The aim was to explore animation as medium that can help scholars “reconstruct ancient popular performances, as a way of re-inventing the text for further study or teaching.” A fuller account of the project’s origins and aims can be found here: http://www.papyrology.ox.ac.uk/trashyhumour/
Episode 87A, released on 05/31/1978, 11 min.; English dub
In this Japanese series also known as ‘Manga Sekai Mukashibanashi’ (produced from 1976 to 1979), each episode depicts a famous fairy tale from all around the world. The Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses is the source for this tragic tale of transformation.
The series was released under many names in English, including “Tales of Magic,” “Merlin’s Cave” and “Wonderful, Wonderful Tales From Around the World.”
9 min.; Belgium; director: Raoul Servais; no dialog
Winner of the 1979 Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at the Cannes Film Festival
In this unsettling black comedy that verges on horror, a man on an evening stroll encounters a harpy and “rescues” it from an assault. He then takes it home with him where it begins to torment him by eating all of his food and eventually by eating his legs. After a near escape, the Harpy finds the man and assaults him, only to be “rescued” again by a policeman who intervenes.
Servais on this film: “Harpya was my first attempt to combine live action images with animation. The live actors had to be incorporated in graphical backgrounds, for which I had to invent my own technique at the time. The result was rather satisfying, but very time consuming, because it really was limited to a one person’s job. I guess Harpya will remain the only film ever made in this technique.”
This Terry Toon short was inspired by Aesop’s fable “The Fox and the Grapes,” and is a sequel of sorts to 1950’s “Aesop’s Fable: Foiling the Fox.” Watch as the trickster Dingbat entices Foxy Fox to read the fable, which says the fox tried “in vain” to get the grapes. This fires up the Fox and several classic hilarious gags ensue as he tries and fails to retrieve the grapes that Dingbat has nailed to the top of a tree. Unlike in the fable, he is successful at getting them in the end, only to find that the grapes are sour.
Germany; 11 min; director/writer: Daniel Nocke; Studio FILM BILDER
From the Studio FILM BILDER site: “Is the present-day Cyclops a dangerous monster or a sensitive artist? A group of German tourists express a variety of opinions. Mr. and Mrs. Petersen decide to find out for themselves, and experience a few surprises.”
Awards: Silver Prize in Animation, Expo Film and Video Shorts, New York, 2003 First Prize of the Jury, Film Festival Landshut, 2003 Second prize for short film, exground, Wiesbaden, 2003 Best animated film of the national competition, Filmfest Dresden, 2002 Third prize, Cinema Concetta, Ruesselsheim, 2002 Best short film, Filmfest Schwerin, 2002 First prize, category 5-10 min, Krok Festival, Moscow / St. Petersburg, 2015 Special Jury Mention, Countryside Animafest Cyprus, 2015 Special Mention, Animafest Zagreb, Croatia, 2015 Special Mention, Monstra, Lisboa, Portugal, 2015 “Short Tiger”, Filmförderungsanstalt Berlin, 2015