Saturday, May 18, 2013

In Memoriam: Ray Harryhausen 1920-2013

(This post originally appeared on sister blog Shadow of a Doubt 5/12/2013)

Special effects artist/stop motion model animator. George Pal's Puppetoons. Mighty Joe Young. The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. It Came From Beneath the Sea. Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. 20 Million Miles to Earth. The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. The Three Worlds of Gulliver. Jason and the Argonauts. One Million Years BC. Clash of the Titans.

"Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars."

--George Lucas

"He was the man who made me believe in monsters."

--Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead director)

"I think all of us who are practitioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now all feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant. If not for Ray's contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn't be who we are."

--James Cameron

"What we do now digitally with computers, Ray did digitally long before but without computers. Only with his digits."

--Terry Gilliam

Mighty Joe Young (1949) On this, his first live-action movie, Harryhausen assisted a man he'd long admired, Willis O'Brien, who had created the special-effects for King Kong 16 years earlier.

Speaking of King Kong, its re-release in mid-1952 proved to be more popular than three earlier reissues, as well as its initial showing in 1933. It was the highest grossing film that summer, and Time magazine called it Movie of the Year. Why am I telling you all this? Because more than anything else, it was the success of this then-19 year old film that spurred on the giant-creature-attacks-big-city stop-motion picture craze of the 1950s, of which Ray Harryhausen played no small part.

The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953) "Burp."

It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955) "If you're going to San Francisco/be sure to wear some flowers in your hair"

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956) Earth would seem to be the underdog.

20 Millions Miles to Earth (1957) We don't fare too well against reptiles from Venus, either.

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) With the exception of the "red-and-white" burning house scene in Mighty Joe Young, this was Harryhausen's first foray into color. Green looked rather becoming on her, don't you think?

Jason and the Argonauts (1963) Probably Harryhausen's most famous (and most bone-chilling) special effect.

One Million Years B.C. (1966) In case you're curious, Raquel Welch is not a Harryhausen special effect. All kidding aside, I think that T-rex holds up well against the computer-animated one in Jurassic Park.

Clash of the Titans (1981) Harryhausen's final film. Heads up!

No comments: