RALEIGH — Come witness the epic story that was destined to stand as a colossus of adventure! Follow the Greek hero Jason and his team of intrepid adventurers (including Hercules) as they pursue a perilous quest for the legendary Golden Fleece, when the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences shows the 1963 epic “Jason and the Argonauts ” on First Friday, August 2 at 7pm. Free.
Under the protection of Hera, queen of the gods, Jason and his all-stars are constantly put to the test in battles against harpies, a seven-headed hydra, and an animated skeleton army, all brought to life by the special effects wizardry of Ray Harryhausen. Jason was brought to life by Todd Armstrong in no doubt the most prominent film role of his brief acting career. Oddly enough, the voice of Jason/Armstrong was dubbed by British actor Tim Turner, who also provided the voice of Dr. Peter Brady in the popular late ‘50s British TV series, “H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man.”
Hera is portrayed by none other than Honor Blackman, who just prior to “Jason” starred as the leather-clad Cathy Gale in the popular “The Avengers” TV series, and just after portrayed the most popular character of her career: Pussy Galore in the ultimate James Bond movie “Goldfinger,” alongside the ultimate Bond, Sean Connery.
It reportedly took Harryhausen four months to produce the climactic skeleton attack scene in his trademark stop-motion model animation style (known as “dynamation”), a massive amount of time for a scene which lasts, at the most, three minutes. Yet it remains his most famous work — and was always his personal favorite. Harryhausen passed away in May of this year at the age of 92.
The movie was scored by the prolific Bernard Herrmann, who also provided original scores for movies ranging from “The Day the Earth Stood Still” to the Alfred Hitchcock classics “Psycho,” “Vertigo” and “North by Northwest.” Listen for elements of these scores within the score for “Jason and the Argonauts,” as Herrmann often borrowed from his previous works.
Prior to the movie you can try your hand at animating the massive jaws of a T. rex in the Museum’s new special exhibit “Dinosaurs in Motion,” which features life-size dinos made of recycled metal that you can move via lever-and-pulley or remote control. The 14 anatomically-inspired sculptures were built by Asheville artist John Payne. Adult tickets are $2 cheaper on First Fridays (5-7pm) via the Museum Box Office or online at www.naturalsciences.org/specialexhibits . The exhibit runs through September 8.
The Museum and the new Nature Research Center stay open from 5 to 9pm on the First Friday of every month, inviting visitors to witness a (classic) sci-fi or horror movie, wander through eye-catching exhibits, groove to live jazz from Daniel DeLorenzo and Jacob Dowdy, or enjoy food and beverages at the Daily Planet Café. Additionally, the Museum Stores offer after-hours shopping (till 7pm) and an opening reception for photographer Lawrence Earley, whose show “Carolina Grasslands” runs August 2 – September 1 in the Nature Art Gallery. All exhibited art is for sale.