Sony Movie Channel Pays Tribute To The Legendary Filmmaker Ray Harryhausen In A Special Afternoon Marathon, Saturday, May 11
sony will feature a dcumentary about harryhausen, followed by three of his sinbad movies
RAY HARRYHAUSEN: SPECIAL EFFECTS TITAN was filmed over a 10-year period and
features interviews and tributes from an illustrious list of acclaimed
filmmakers who were inspired by his work. Directed by Gilles Penso, the
documentary includes interviews with longtime admirers and Harryhausen fans
that have been involved in some of the film industry's biggest blockbuster
The name Ray Harryhausen may not be familiar to everyone but to those who do know it, his name stands as a landmark in the history of a genre and cinematic art, the art of dimensional stop-motion animation. Ray made his name by developing fantastic stories and creatures based on legends and mythology and creating a unique genre of fantasy films during the 1950s, 60s and 70s that took the movie making world, and the public, by storm.
Ray Harryhausen stands as a beacon to today’s fantasy filmmakers as the creator who inspired them and made the impossible possible.
There are a number of websites that either devote themselves to Ray’s work or at the very least mention his name prominently, but it is hoped that this official website will provide everyone who requires a true account of his life and work a first and final stop for all that is Ray Harryhausen.
The site provides details of news and events as well as exclusive and previously unavailable information and images that will complement the five books written by Ray and Tony Dalton. – from the official ray harryhausen website
Harryhausen laid the groundwork for many special effects techniques today and clearly influenced, among other films, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). His admirers include Steven Spielberg, whose special effects dinosaurs in Jurassic Park (1993) are in stark contrast to Harryhausen working alone with a small process screen, a vintage Mitchell camera, a pair of sliding matte glasses, partial miniature sets and glass paintings.
He published his autobiography, An Animated Life, in 2004. In retirement he had also returned to sculpting, and lectured and toured the world with exhibitions, culminating with one at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles and at the London Film Museum in 2010 to celebrate his 90th birthday, together with a special event at the National Film Theatre hosted by John Landis. In 2012 the documentary Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan was released.
Once, when asked if he had a favourite among his creatures, Harryhausen replied: “It would be Medusa. But don’t tell the others.”
He married Diana Livingstone in 1962. She survives him, along with a daughter, Vanessa.
In 1933, the 13-year-old Ray Harryhausen saw King Kong at the cinema and was hooked – not only by Kong, who was clearly not just a man in a gorilla suit, but also by the dinosaurs. He came out of the theatre “stunned and haunted. They looked absolutely lifelike … I wanted to know how it was done.” It was done by using stop-motion animation: jointed models filmed one frame at a time to simulate movement. Harryhausen, who has died aged 92, was to become the prime exponent of the technique and its combination with live action. He created the special effects for fantasy films such as The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958); Jason and the Argonauts (1963), with its famous army of skeletons; and Clash of the Titans (1981).
we all have our favorite harryhausen creations. mine is Bubo, the enchanted, mechanical owl from the original Clash of the Titans.
He was born in Los Angeles to Frederick and Martha Harryhausen, Americans of German ancestry. As a young boy he had an interest in prehistoric animals and created clay models. He began to experiment with a borrowed camera, working around the fact that it did not have a stop-frame mechanism, and he showed his experiments to Willis O’Brien, who had done the visual effects for King Kong. O’Brien’s verdict – that Harryhausen’s models did not have any character and that he should study anatomy – was a turning point in Harryhausen’s approach to his craft.
He attended Los Angeles City College and continued his experiments with a new stop-frame 16mm camera. When, in 1940, George Pal, the puppeteer film-maker, fled to Hollywood from Europe, Harryhausen showed him his work and was subsequently hired to work on Pal’s Puppetoon series for Paramount alongside O’Brien. Its unjointed wooden figures did not really suit either Harryhausen or O’Brien.
Harryhausen made room to begin his dream project: Evolution of the World, a history of the planet. Surviving footage and sketches show a debt to Gustave Doré and to King Kong, but the time it would take to complete, combined with the release of Fantasia (1940) – in which the Rite of Spring sequence covered much of the same ground – stopped the project. In 1942 Harryhausen enlisted in the army, was assigned to the Signal Corps and got himself drafted into Frank Capra’s unit to work on propaganda films. He also contributed to the Army-Navy Screen Magazine as an assistant photographer.
Unemployed after demobilisation in 1946, he began a series of animated two-minute fairy tales using out of date 16mm Kodak stock that he had found. Tied together with a Mother Goose prologue and epilogue, the resulting short film was successfully sold to schools and libraries. – from the guardian u.k., Ray Harryhausen obituary
His first big break came in 1947, when O’Brien hired him to work on Mighty Joe Young, a sort of King Kong-lite adventure about a 12-foot gorilla. Although Harryhausen was officially credited as O’Brien’s assistant animator, it’s generally acknowledged that O’Brien had by then grown weary of the business and passed off most of the actual hands-on work to Harryhausen. Mighty Joe Young shows how far Harryhausen had already come in learning how to invest his models with individual personalities. Released in 1949, the film won the Academy Award for Best Special Effects.
The success of Mighty Joe Young and a resurgence in the popularity of giant monster movies resulted in the busiest period of Harryhausen’s career. His first solo assignment wasto create the title character for The Monster From Beneath The Sea—a film that soon became The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, after Ray Bradbury responded to an offer to clean up its screenplay by pointing out that it was awfully similar to a story by that name he’d already published in The Saturday Evening Post. Having mastered the craft of making his models appear lifelike onscreen, Harryhausen now focused on developing a combination of split-screen, rear projection, and careful attention to lighting that would enable them to better blend in with live action. In a few years, the producer Charles H. Schneer would coin the snappy term “Dynamation” to describe Harryhausen’s technique.
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
After Beast, Harryhausen began his long professional partnership with Schneer on It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955), starring a gigantic—and, for budgetary reasons, six-tentacled—octopus that menaces the Golden Gate Bridge. They collaborated again on the dinosaur picture The Animal World (1956), which gave Harryhausen one more chance to work with Willis O’Brien; Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers (1956), highlighted by the iconic images of UFOs strafing Washington, D. C. and crashing into the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building; and 20 Million Miles To Earth (1957).
In 1958, Harryhausen and Schneer took a break from menacing aliens and big marauding critters to achieve a fantasy benchmark with their first color film, The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad. The film, which also marked the first of several collaborations between Harryhausen and the composer Bernard Herrmann, features a sword battle between the hero and a skeleton that may be Harryhausen’s best-known and most influential melding of live action and animation. Characteristically, Harryhausen tried to top himself with a sequence in 1963’s Jason And The Argonauts that featured a whole army of battling, self-regenerating skeletons.
Harryhausen and Schneer also worked together on The Three Worlds Of Gulliver (1960), Mysterious Island (1961), First Men In The Moon (1964), and The Valley Of Gwangi (1969). (Around the same time, Harryhausen also did the effects for the 1966 One Million Years B.C.—a film perhaps best remembered not for Harryhausen’s work, but rather a popular dorm-room poster showcasing Raquel Welch’s décolletage.) The returns on these later movies proved disappointing, so in 1974, they returned to swords-and-seafarers fantasy with The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad.
Golden Voyage did quite well, but while Harryhausen and Schneer may have thought it was the beginning of a comeback, in some ways it was their last gasp. The follow-up, Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger (1977), was released three months after Star Wars—a movie that both reflected and influenced changing tastes in big-screen spectacle. It was also true that, after so many years in the business, Harryhausen’s effects were beginning to seem repetitive, a problem exacerbated in the fondly remembered yet creaky Clash Of The Titans. After the restrained box-office response to Titans, plans for a sequel were canceled, and Harryhausen was unable to get financing for another Sinbad movie. He formally announced his retirement in 1984. - from the a/v club, A look at the life and career of the late Ray Harryhausen
from the bbc:
see also, the ray harryhausen creature list