Over the course of his long career, Ray Harryhausen gave us giant apes and warrior skeletons; rampaging dinosaurs and flying saucers; Moon creatures and even the friggin’ Kraken. His imagination and talent served up one wonder after another in the decades when breathing life into fantastic creatures couldn’t rely on computers to do the heavy lifting. Ray Harryhausen, stop-motion effects master, has passed away at the age of 92.
Harryhausen’s family released a statement announcing that the movie legend had died in London, and noted his influence on generations of filmmakers:
The Harryhausen family regret to announce the death of Ray Harryhausen, visual effects pioneer and stop-motion model animator.
Ray’s influence on today’s film makers was enormous with luminaries; Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, John Landis and the UK’s own Nick Park have cited Harryhausen as being the man whose work inspired their own creations.
Harryhausen’s long career included such unforgettable flicks as Clash of the Titans, One Million Years B.C., Jason and the Argonauts, and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. He brought his creations to life via stop-motion “Dynamation,” gradually adjusting the poses of miniatures one frame at a time. While the effects may look dated compared to today’s glossy CGI excess, the quality that remains ageless is how Harryhausen imbued a real sense of life and reality into his monsters.
I remember somebody once saying — I think it may have been Peter Jackson — that the trick with creating a great monster is by realizing that the monster doesn’t know it’s a monster, it’s an animal that thinks and feels and reacts, and you can see that spirit in Harryhausen’s creations. As such, to this day they carry more verisimilitude and impact than many of today’s digital critters.
The world has lost a true talent. Check out the video below for a look back at his incredible creations. Rest in peace, Mr. Harryhausen. Thanks for the memories.