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Ray Harryhausen On His Creatures
Empire's visit to the late, great master of stop-motion

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Ray Harryhausen with a Clash Of The Titan Skeleton

This article was originally published in 2012 following an interview with Ray Harryhausen, and serves now as our tribute to the late special effects legend, allowing him to talk us through his groundbreaking career.

An unremarkable trip along the Central Line takes you to Holland Park, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in West Central London. And in a typically large but deceptively anonymous Holland Park corner townhouse... live the monsters.

All right, that might not quite be true. But in that enormous town house does live Ray Harryhausen, monster-creator extraordinaire (although he prefers the term “creature”) over a career spanning at least six decades. Astonishingly, he practically always worked alone, and uniquely while he never directed per se, it’s his authorship stamped over Dynamation classics from Mighty Joe Young to Clash Of The Titans. “They were my films,” he chuckles. “The directors worked for me.”

Our walk down the austere hallway of chez Harryhausen takes us past closed doors behind which we’re certain may lurk gorgons and hydras, but the room into which we’re ushered contains just Ray himself, and a small bronze cast of one of the Argonauts skeletons. Modestly, he seems baffled that we’d be interested in talking to him, more than once telling us: “It’s all in the books!” With a new documentary, Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan, celebrating his life and work, we persuaded the master to talk us through a few of his creations first-hand...

WORDS OWEN WILLIAMS
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Ray Harryhausen On His Creatures | Joe Young
Joe Young

Mighty Joe Young, 1946
"That was my first feature, as an assistant to Willis O’Brien. O’Brien started the whole thing with King Kong. His technique was revolutionary at the time. He invited me to his studio to meet him, and I took some of my dinosaurs in a suitcase, and they gave me a job. I tried to improve on it, but I still admire King Kong because it influenced me enormously. There wasn’t a single superfluous scene in the dialogue or the visuals."

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Have Your Say
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Your Comments

1 Brilliant
"They are not monsters....they are misunderstood creatures". More

Posted by danielthompson99 on Thursday May 9, 2013, 12:45

2 RIP
Speechless and quite sad at this news. More

Posted by rissole on Wednesday May 8, 2013, 11:08

3 Pure Gold
I grew up with all the films Ray Harryhausen worked on and they fuelled my fantasies and ambitions. Sadly, I failed to follow in his footsteps, but I've managed to get most of the movies on DVD, and they still entertain and enthral. Maybe it's just a personal thing, but even with the marvels made possible by CGI seem unable to aspire to the same special magic. I think it may have something to do with this observation by the man himself: "I tried to improve on it, but I still admire King Kong because it influenced me enormously. There wasn’t a single superfluous scene in the dialogue or the visuals." More

Posted by Morteus on Sunday November 18, 2012, 18:18

4 RE: Exclusive: Ray Harryhausen On His Creatures
L: Empire Admin Post your comments on <a href=/features/harryhausen-on-harryhausen><b>t his article</b></a> Ok First thing I saw when I opened up the article is the skeleton figurine and damn I remember that thing. I can't remember what movie though, sinbad maybe or clash of the titans. When you take a look at some of the following pictures you can see it's from the argonauts, I remember that movie with silly nostalgia. That guy really is an artist. More

Posted by joig on Saturday November 17, 2012, 00:39

5 in cinemas????
If you can tell me where , that would be marvellous! I have read reviews but it neglect to say where its on...if at all!! Grrrrrr! More

Posted by zmtm on Friday November 16, 2012, 16:46


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