Sunday, October 08, 2006

XXVII. I GIGANTI DELLA TESSAGLIA (THE GIANTS OF THESSALY) 1961



I Giganti Della Tessaglia (The Giants of Thessaly)

Year;
1961

Director: Riccardo Freda

Music; Carlo Rustichelli

Country; Italy & France

Duration; 95 minutes

The Players; Roland Carey(Giasone) Ziva Rodann(Creusa)Massimo Girotti (Orfeo) Luciano Marin(Euristeo)Alberto Farnese(Adrasto) Nadia Sanders(Regina Gaia) Cathia Caro (Aglaia) Alfredo Varelli( Argo) Gil Delamare(Alceo) Maria TeresaVianello ( Sorella diGaia) Nando Tamberlani (Padre di Aglaia) Alberto Sorrentino (Licaone) Massimo Pianforini (Padre di Argo) Paolo Gozlino(Laerte ) Raf Baldassarre (Antinoo)

Alternatives;
Géant de Thésalie, Le (France)
Available;VCI Entertainment DVD
Original Ratio;
2:35:1
DVD Ratio; Pan and Scanned , pseudo widescreeen.
Colour * English Language* Dubbed*



More in respect of this being a film first should we hold it in esteem; to achieve a ‘classic’ or ‘must see’ status would be too much of an over-sell on my part.

As in other Riccardo Freda sword and sandal vehicles big lows and dulls are as much a staple part as the commendable action sequences.

Unfortunately some of the dialogue to build the character and pad the plot are nail bitingly boring as well as being borderline inept.

Careys’ portrayal of Jason is a bit on the vapid side. Some of his crew are far more interesting than the lead and despite the melodramatic camp outbursts Orpheus is pleasantly lamentable, forlorn and generally more intriguing.

Although there is sufficient oiled muscle and homo-eroticism on display the ‘macho’ stereotypes waver as the assemblage on deck whinge and whine in some scenes like rheumatic old women. This takes away the machismo and brings out a vulnerability that is effectively demonstrated but on the whole could have been a little less annoying.

Freda brings all sorts of mythological elements from all over fabled chronology and presents us with a slight hodge-podge of events that serve wonderfully as entertainment but in true ‘peplum’ fantasy would fluster many historians or those who have accurately studied the classics.

When Giants of Thessaly does peak it does so with finesse. The battle with the Cyclops isn’t half bad courtesy of Carlo Rimbaldis effects, the combat sequences are delivered with visual panache and there is an outstanding moment where Jason and his band of warriors burst from statues to foil a 'forced' marriage.

Before they launch into battle they tip up the flammable ‘lighters’, as the liquid flame combusts and rages so the sword clanging reaches a crescendo. This is good stuff but seems very scant and doesn’t seem to go on long enough.

Thus again the ‘talky’ parts seem cardinal to the action and to ones’ frustration can at times ramble with little significance bringing no added value to the proceedings.

The sets are most impressive and Freda uses sparse but ‘grandiose’ landscapes to panoramic effect. The giant statue is awesome but the running time showing Jason clambering over it to obtain the fleece – isn’t.

This didn’t work for me for two reasons the first is that the sequence is too long. It’s a traffic jam of an episode believe me. The other is the dreadful pan and scan of the movie on the VCI version. For a length of time I was watching a static statues’ face and spotted, if lucky, an odd glimpse of shoulder or calloused hand and the odd tinkling of ‘fiddling’ about.

I still have yet to see a decent print of a Freda movie and, like his Italian counterparts, would love to see how he uses colour. I have been fortunate with Bava but still think another adversary of these films are not just ratio but the pastel-dull prints that lose much of the colour and Technicolor 'glow'.



The most fondly told and recollected tale of ancient
Greece starts in Thessaly. Jason is nowhere to be seen in his kingdom as he has already been pursuing the Golden Fleece.

It is imperative he should obtain the sacred object as Zeus needs to be appeased and is contemplating putting Thessaly under a ton of bone blistering lava. The surrounding volcanoes are ready to spew their contents and only Jason can save his people from such a fate.

As Jason and his crew of mythological heroes face starvation, dehydration, a witch’s’ curse (sequences from Fredas’ ‘I Vampiri (1957)’ are used where the beautiful Gaia transforms herself into a gap toothed hag), an island of beautiful ballerina vampires and a raggedy Cyclops; at home the shifty Orfeo and Adrasto are wedging themselves into the throne.

Adrasto goes one step further and tries his flirtation skills on Jasons’ love Creusa and begins getting pushier and scarily forceful for her affections as time moves on.

When the Argonauts return from their odyssey they find they have arrived at the near birth of a tyrannical reign. Once more the Argonauts prepare for a final battle to prevent it from happening, to restore harmony to Thessaly and for Jason to become its' King once more .

Freda manages to bring further camp touches to the proceedings where there is a novel ‘ferry’ ride for Jason as he is being wooed and seduced by Gaia.

Another hilarious moment is when some of his crew are turned into sheep coming across as cheap surrealism that raises a giggle.

Don’t expect any Harryhausen beasts or major studio big bucks with this.

The best version is the region 2 Italian version but unfortunately this has no English subtitles.

There is also a print on Alpha video DVD but as in most of their releases expect a print that looks like it was devoured a by a Cyclops and shit out the other other end, no doubt.

VCI’s edition despite its mediocre quality is your best bet at the moment it can be obtained from this link. Region 1 only.

Another ‘feature’ of this disc is that it also plays host to Fredas’ other first ‘Sins of Rome’ (a.k.a Spartaco).