Ray Harryhausen: 1920 – 2013
I’m shocked that I didn’t hear about this earlier. Ray Harryhausen was one of the greatest special effects artists of his time. As one of the top pioneers in stop-motion photography he brought countless fantastical creatures to the screen. From his early years as an assistant to Willis H. O’Brien (the animator behind King Kong) on Mighty Joy Young to his monster laden cult classic Clash of the Titans thirtysomething years later, Harryhausen captured the imaginations of many. I’ll always remember him best for Jason and the Argonauts (1963), a film that Tom Hanks once declared: “The greatest movie ever made.” It’s got Hydras, Harpes, a giant statue monster and who could forget the skeletons? When Todd Armstrong faces off against those bony bad guys set to the music of Bernard Herrmann, I get chills.
It’s disappointing that stop-motion has become somewhat of relic, but in a way that only makes Harryhausen’s work more special. It was a different era where effects work was done not with computers but with one’s bare hands. I have a lot of admiration for the patience and attention to detail Harryhause had. So much so in fact that I’ve decided to do a written Top Ten Tribute post to Harryhausen next week. Be on the look out for “Top Ten Harryhausen Monsters” though it wont be easy picking a winner.