Friday, May 10, 2013

Ken Turner Blog Series: Influences and Inspirations Blog Entry #8 - RAY HARRYHAUSEN (1920 - 2013)

"I'm very happy that so many young fans have told me that my films have changed their lives. That's a great compliment. It means I did more than just make entertaining films. I actually touched people's lives -- and, I hope, changed them for the better." - Ray Harryhausen

In last week's "Influences and Inspirations" blog entry I hinted at my next entry would be about a certain "Master of Stop-Motion Animation".  This past Thursday May 7 sadly Ray Harryhausen passed away at age 92.  He single handedly influenced a generation of names in the film industry today such as Tim Burton, Stan Winston, Peter Jackson, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg to name a few.  He was first influenced and later tutored by King Kong pioneer Willis H. O'Brien.  Most famous for his work in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and the skeleton sword fight in Jason and the Argonauts.

Ray Harryhausen FILM Highlights

  • Mighty Joe Young (1949 – first technician)
  • The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953 – animation effects)
  • It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955 – visual effects)
  • Earth vs the Flying Saucers (1956 – special photographic, animation effects)
  • The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958 – associate producer, visual effects)
  • Mysterious Island (1961 – special visual effects creator)
  • Jason and the Argonauts (1963 – associate producer, special visual effects creator)
  • One Million Years BC (1966 – special visual effects)
  • Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977 – producer, special visual effects creator)
  • Clash of the Titans (1981 – special visual effects creator)

VIDEO: Ray Harryhausen And His Iconic Monsters

"It’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Some people find it tedious. I’ve never found it tedious. But that’s peculiar to different people." - Ray Harryhausen on being a stop-motion animator

 "I feel it’s a tool. As you know, in a thirty-second commercial you see the most amazing images, the amazing image is no longer spectacular. It’s become mundane because it’s over used. The computer seems to be able to do anything. So people take it for granted, I think. There’s something that happens in stop-motion that gives a different effect–like a dream world–and that’s what fantasy is about." - Ray Harryhausen on CGI as a tool

Ray Harryhausen Special Effects Titan teaser trailer

This is the definitive documentary about Ray Harryhausen. Aside from interviews with the great man himself, shot over five years, there are also interviews and tributes from James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Nick Park, Phil Tippett, Terry Gilliam, Dennis Muren, John Landis, Ken Ralston, Joe Dante, Randy Cook, Guillermo Del Toro, Steve Johnson, John Lasseter and many more. For the first time Ray have provided unprecedented access to film all aspects of his collection including models, artwork and miniatures as well as Ray's private study, where he designed most of his creations, and his workshop where he built them. In addition the documentary will use unseen footage of tests and experiments. Never before has so much visual material been used in any previous documentary about Ray. This definitive production will not only display a huge part of the unique collection but will illustrate the influence that Ray's work has had on film makers during the past fifty or so years.  Written by The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation

  Concept Art from "Jason and the Argonauts" by Ray Harryhausen
Film Still from "Jason and the Argonauts"
 Ray Harryhausen Homages

The restaurant in Monsters, Inc. (2001) is named after him.

The piano in Corpse Bride (2005) is named after him.


 I paid homage in the alien spaceship episode from my web series Snowboy & Crow (2012)...the hat shop is named after him.


"1933's King Kong haunted me for years, I came out of the theatre in another world. I'd never see anything like that before in my life. I didn't know how it was done and that was half the charm. I didn't just say "Eureka, I've found what I want to do", that came over a period of time. But I'd done a few dioramas in clay of the La Brea tar pits and I saw in "King Kong" how you could make them move. Luckily a friend of my father's worked at RKO and he knew all about stop-motion, so I started experimenting in my garage." - Ray Harryhausen

Next time on the Influences and Inspirations :  The man who created St Trinian’s!




Little Gothic Horrors said...

I hadn't picked up any of those references. I'll be looking out for them next time.

I don't know if you watched 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', but there's a scene where Giles duels with a skeleton, which I assume is an homage to 'Jason and the Argonauts'. :)

Ken Turner said...

Ya I would imagine that scene would be a homage. Was it done in stop motion or CG?

Little Gothic Horrors said...

Oh, I'm sure it must be CGI, but they made it look stop motion with sort of stuttering movement. It's a cool scene. :)