"Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars."
- George Lucas
"The Lord of the Rings is my 'Ray Harryhausen movie.' Without his life-long love of his wondrous images and storytelling it would never have been made — not by me at least."
- Peter Jackson
|Ray Harryhausen. A giant and maker of giants.|
Ray Harryhausen, the greatest and most influential stop-motion animator of all time, has passed away at age 92. His passing comes not long after that of his life-long friend (and fellow Ray) Ray Bradbury.
If you don't know his name, you may know some of the films he worked on. Films such as The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, 20 Million Miles to Earth, Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and The Argonauts, Earth vs The Flying Saucers, Mysterious Island, and the original Clash of the Titans.
If those don't ring a bell (and you've got some film-watching to do if they don't!) you may know some of the filmmakers he inspired through his work.
Filmmakers such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Sam Raimi, Terry Gilliam, Nick Park, Peter Jackson, John Lassiter, Rick Baker, and Phil Tippett. Anyone currently working in the visual effects industry owes Mr. Harryhausen a huge debt of gratitude. He was a one-man Industrial Light and Magic, and paved the way for all the science-fiction and fantasy visionaries to come.
He's the father of a legion of unearthy creatures. Mighty Joe Young. The Rhedosaur. The alien Ymir. Armies of the living skeletons. Talos, the bronze giant. Bubo, the robot owl. The Hydra. Kali. Medusa. The Cyclops. The list goes on. Ray imbued the clay and wire armatures with realistic movements and personality. These weren't simply mindless creatures, but living characters. You would always end up rooting for Ray's monsters over the bland forces of humanity they were decimating.
I discovered Harryhausen's work in grade school. My VHS tapes of The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Jason & The Argonauts were nearly worn out from being watched so many times. All I wanted to do at that age was find a way to make stop-motion animation. I really haven't changed too much since my early years; there are a few creatures in my current project Sticky Fingers: The Movie which are most definitely Harryhausen-inspired, and the film will also feature several wild stop-motion effects in the big climax.
Here's to Ray! His brilliant and monster-filled legacy will endure.
-- contributed by filmmaker, animator, and Thriller! Chiller! alumni, Jason Roth. Hear about his latest project at http://www.stickyfingersthemovie.com.
Jason Roth is the founder of Bargain Basement Productions, a Michigan-based film and animation company. He has been creating live-action & animated short films and commercials for over a decade. Roth recently completed the horror/comedy feature TOO DEAD TO DIE, produced the ghost hunter comedy AMERICA'S MOST HAUNTED, and is currently in production on the animated feature film STICKY FINGERS: THE MOVIE, which features voice work from Fred Williamson, Lloyd Kaufman, Josh Becker, and Asia Argento. He is also developing the live-action feature ONE MAN'S VENGEANCE from a storyline by Fred Williamson (who will star). Roth can be seen in a rare acting role as “Dorito Guy” in the international indie sensation APE.
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