In a battle between the Gods, Pelias (Douglas Wilmer) - aided by Zeus (Niall MacGinnis) - usurps King Aristo of Thessaly. He later finds out that the throne will return to Aristo's bloodline when his child will avenge his death. He angers the Goddess Hera (Honor Blackman) by killing Aristo's daughter whilst she was under Hera's protection.
Twenty years later, Jason (Todd Armstrong) returns to Thessaly looking to avenge his father's death. Jason accidentally saves Pelias who, after realising that Jason doesn't recognise him, encourages him to look for the Golden Fleece (which Jason believes will bring prosperity to his people) hoping that it will be a fatal mission for Jason.
Jason gets together an army - his 'argonauts' - full of Greek heroes including Heracles and sets sail in search for the fleece with the aim of saving his people.
Jason and the Argonauts is a feel-good children's story based on the Greek myth. It is relatively true to the story - although obviously dumbed down for the audience - but still has appeal in this modern era for its adventure qualities. There are giant monsters and natural disasters all laid out delicately enough for this to be awarded the lowest possible age rating (in the UK the BBFC awarded it a U), While there are never any horrific moments, the action never gives the impression that it has been held back.
One scene sees the Argonauts attacked by the Titan Talos (which Empire magazine later voted the second best movie monster in history) and it is this giant bronze statue that epitomises the relationship between animation and real world images that is displayed in Jason and the Argonauts. Often this merging appears very wooden (much like the acting) but that is to be expected of a film that had a modest budget of just $1 million.
Despite the huge difference between their budgets, I often caught myself thinking back to another contemporary classic adventure in Ben-Hur, Sure, Ben Hur is far superior to Jason and the Argonauts, and whilst neither show much of a hint of comedy they both appear to actually enjoy telling their respective stories. For that reason, Jason and the Argonauts is the perfect Sunday afternoon film - keeping the children entertained whilst Mum and Dad can follow the story despite having their head buried in the newspaper.
A good, clean, educational adventure.