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Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (2012)
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Ray Harryhausen Has Died
The special effects genius was 92

07 May 2013  |  Written by Phil de Semlyen  |  Source: Facebook

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Ray Harryhausen

Ray Harryhausen, a master of stop-motion animation and a true movie great, has died. He was 92.

Born in Los Angeles in June 1920, Harryhausen's enthusiasm for the burgeoning form of animation was sparked by a viewing of Willis O’Brien’s King Kong as a wide-eyed 13 year-old. Two years later and he could be found crafting his own homemade animations, prototypes of the models he would quickly come to perfect in Mighty Joe Young (1949), It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955), 20 Million Miles To Earth (1957) and The Valley Of Gwangi (1969).

Three Sinbad movies delivered classic monsters like the Cyclops and Homonicus, Jason And The Argonauts (1963) brought skeletons and Talos to the screen, while Clash Of The Titans (1981) delivered Medusa and unleashed a Kraken. All memorable; all maintained for posterity by the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation.

Harryhausen's magic captivated young viewers like Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg and James Cameron, all of whom are quick to recognise their subsequent debt to Harryhausen and pay tribute to his artistry. “The Lord Of The Rings is my ‘Ray Harryhausen movie’," enthuses Jackson. "Without his wondrous images and storytelling it would never have been made – not by me at least.” Cameron describes him simply as "a giant".

When Empire spoke to the great man last year, he remembered working on those stop-motion classics with great fondness. Always unwilling to pick a favourite monster creation - it was like trying to pick a favourite child, he reasoned - he did confess to a weakness for his dinosaurs. "We tried real animals in some of the prehistoric pictures", he remembered, "just to save time and money, but the real animals never look as good as the animated ones".

Not merely a master craftsman, Harryhausen's handling of stop-motion action sequences was sublime too. Perhaps the greatest of all his set-pieces was Jason And The Argonauts' timeless set-to in which Jason and his band battle a small cohort of skeletons, three months' worth of painstaking labour. Dynamic, free-flowing and filled with clammy desperation, it's a piece of cinema that remains lodged in the mind long after the film ends. We can't think of a better tribute.

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Your Comments

Ray Harryhausen will never be forgotten
Thank you so much, Harryhausen. You're wonderful stop-motion work will live on in the years to come. Most importantly, they deliver a much soulful imagery than most of the CGI we get nowadays. Rest in peace. More

Posted by bb at 19:42 on 08 May 2013 | Report This Post

I once knew an American kid at school called Billy who lived next door to RH; Billy said he was, like many of the true geniuses, very unassuming, and very casually gave him a minature skeleton as a keepsake, as well as a model of a certain great ape who once visited Manhattan. More

Posted by Frank Comiskey at 11:18 on 08 May 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Ray Harryhausen Has Died
Loved all the films he did when I was a kid, Jason and the Argonauts, Valley of the Gwangi, the Sinbad films. True Hollywood ledgend More

Posted by Discodez at 10:12 on 08 May 2013 | Report This Post

RIP to a true Hollywood legend. You paved the way for modern films, but your work will always be the milestone to which others strive. More

Posted by theonering at 08:30 on 08 May 2013 | Report This Post

R.I.P Ray
Really sad to hear this, loved his work. RIP. More

Posted by NCC1701A at 08:22 on 08 May 2013 | Report This Post

A Titan Leaves Us
The uniquely great Ray Harryhausen died today, his contribution to modern cinema incalculable. When the father of modern special effects, and the architect of my childhood imagination, dies it's a "stop all the clocks" moment as far as I'm concerned. I watched the brilliant new documentary "Ray Harryhausen:Special Effects Titan" only last week, in which every major film maker, and SFX technician, in the last 30 years got down on their hands and knees and worshipped him...w More

Posted by excelsior at 22:36 on 07 May 2013 | Report This Post

Thankyou Ray!
Your creations have left an imprint on mine, and millions of others lives. Thankyou for scaring the crap out of me with Medusa and the skeleton gladiators! lol You were as influential and pioneering as Fischinger or now stand among them, a true original innovator, with a rermarkable legacy! More

Posted by The Watcher at 22:31 on 07 May 2013 | Report This Post

A true inspiration
Thanks Ray as you inspired me and my brother for as long as I can remember and to think it only this time last year was at the South Bank Film Museum for exhibition. Blessings to all your friends and family and not forgetting fans. More

Posted by RogueAngelfire at 19:05 on 07 May 2013 | Report This Post

The industry has lost a true pioneer. I spent most of my younger days watching the movies he worked on. He and his work will never be forgotten. More

Posted by Struie at 19:02 on 07 May 2013 | Report This Post

RIP, Ray
And thanks for the memories. More

Posted by garymakin at 18:36 on 07 May 2013 | Report This Post

R.I.P. Ray
Really sad news. I had the honour to meet him and shake his hand a few years back. A real legend. He'll be missed More

Posted by Scruffybobby at 18:33 on 07 May 2013 | Report This Post

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