Scooby Doo and Scrappy Doo: “Lock the Door, It’s a Minotaur!” (1979)

22 min.; Season 1, Episode 15

Purchase full episode and watch here:

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.


Manga Fairy Tales of the World: Narcissus and Echo [まんが世界昔ばなし: ナルシスとエコー] (1978)

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.”

Harpya (1979)

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.”

Phaeton, The Son of the Sun [Фаэтон сын Солнца] (1972)

17 min.; Russia; dir. Vasily Livanov; produced by Soyuzmultfilm

The Greek myth of Phaeton is the basis for this atmospheric short about the structure of the solar system, which features a variety of animation styles. The subject matter melds the realms of science and myth, and reflects both the prominence and ambition of the Soviet space program during this period.

Cosmonauts are sent on a spaceship called “Phaeton 1” to explore the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The mission is based on the hypothesis that the belt originated from fragments of a deceased planet. An interlude explaining why the spaceship has this name retells the story of Phaeton and his doomed chariot ride with vivid images and music. It is suggested that the myth is “poetic evidence of an actual occurrence: the destruction of the planet Phaeton as a result of space catastrophe.”

The broader idea is then introduced that connections between ancient events and artefacts and contain the mystery of contact between Earth and other worlds. After the cosmonauts arrive at the asteroid belt, the question of how the planet Phaeton might have been destroyed is considered, and there is a parallel drawn between Jupiter’s gravity and Zeus’ thunderbolt as agents of destruction. The film ends by imagining the alien inhabitants of this planet, the Phaetonians, visiting earth and making contact with ancient native peoples. This film certainly seems to engage with the pseudoscientific theories of paleocontact or “ancient astronaut theory,” which became popular in the 1970s (and remain so today).


The North Wind and the Sun: A Fable by Aesop (1972)

3 min.; Canada

Design, Animation, Narration: Rhoda Leyer; Supervising Editor and Director: Les Drew

From the National Film Board of Canada: “This short animated film illustrates the fable in which the warm sun proves to the cold wind that persuasion is better than force when it comes to making a man remove his coat.”

Based on Aesop’s fable (Perry Index #46)


Unterwegs mit Odysseus (1979)

13 episodes; 30 min. each; German language (no subtitles)

Directed by Tony Munzlinger; written by Anton Zink; produced by Südwestfunk

 Unterwegs mit Odysseus (Travelling with Odysseus) was a live-action, youth-oriented documentary TV series that followed ship captain, director and cartoonist Tony Munzlinger and his family on a sea voyage (on a boat called the ‘Odyssey’) as they re-traced the path of the hero from Troy to Ithaca. The live-action travel scenes were interspersed with hand-drawn animated segments by Munzlinger that retold the stories from Homer’s Odyssey in rhyme.


Lindner, M. (2017). “Mythology for the Young at Heart.” In A Companion to Ancient Greece and Rome on Screen, A.J. Pomeroy (Ed.). doi:10.1002/9781118741382.ch23

The Odyssey of the Puppets [La Odisea de los Muñecos] (1975)

55 min; Mexico; Spanish language with no subtitles

Director: Carlos G. Groppa / Solene Films

This film is the earliest animated depiction of the Odyssey that I have discovered thus far. It is an obscure, low-budget puppet version, which presents a loose recounting of the epic accompanied by psychedelic imagery and a swinging soundtrack.

Groppa was an Argentinian writer and filmmaker who emigrated to Mexico in 1971 where he participated in the production of the television series La Novela Semanal: Grandes Obras de la Literatura Universal de Canal 13, adapting classic novels in ten chapters, before moving on to work on La Odisea de los Muñecos between 1972 and 1974.


Triton of the Sea [海のトリトン] (1972)

27 episodes, based on the manga by Osamu Tezuka

directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino for TV Asahi

“Triton of the Sea” (originally titled “Blue Triton”) tells the heroic story of Triton, the sole survivor of the destruction of Atlantis five thousand years ago. The sea god Poseidon and his family destroyed both the island and Triton’s family because of a jealous rivalry between the two clans. Triton is rescued and raised by humans but he returns to the sea to avenge the murder of his family by killing the offspring of Poseidon. He does so with the help of his dolphin companions and he also marries the last surviving mermaid, Pipiko, with whom he has seven children, named after the colors of the rainbow. The saga of inter-familial strife between the two families plays out in a tragic manner, with both Triton and Poseidon dying in the end. The children of Triton and other merpeople are left to find a place to live far away from the humans who hunt them.

The plot has little to do with any traditional Greek mythological narrative associated with the sea gods Triton or Poseidon, but it is clearly inspired by mythical figures and the motifs of ancient heroic epic.

A feature length film, also titled Triton of the Sea, was produced as a sequel to the TV show in 1979.


Free to Be You and Me: Atalanta (1974)

h/t Christopher McDonough

5 min. ; produced by Marlo Thomas and Free to Be Productions, in association with Teru Murakami-Fred Wolf Films, Inc. and cosponsored by the Ms. Foundation

A feminist retelling of the myth of Atalanta!

Emmy winner for Outstanding Children’s Special; Emmy nominee for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Children’s Programming; winner of the 1975 Peabody Award

From IMDB: “Based on the beloved children’s album that helped challenge gender stereotypes, this 1974 TV special brings a selection of songs from Marlo Thomas’s record and book to the small screen via live-action, puppetry and animation.”


Sisyphus (1974)

2 min.

A powerful hand-drawn short by Hungarian animator Marcell Jankovics. It premiered in the US at the Chicago International Film Festival in 1974 and was nominated for Best Animated Short at the Academy Awards in 1975. It was also featured in a car commercial during the Super Bowl in 2008.


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