Sunday, May 12, 2013
In Appreciation of: Ray Harryhausen
Karen: Ray Harryhausen, the master of stop-motion animation, passed away this week on May 7th at the venerable age of 92. He was a legend in the special effects world, an unparalleled artist whose work influenced untold numbers of film-makers, writers, artists, and other creative types, and fueled the imaginations of generations.
Karen: He was one of my first guides to the world of the fantastic. His films played often on the local TV stations, and whenever they came on, I was transfixed. It took a few years before I learned the secrets of how he gave life to his creatures, but it didn't diminish their magic; if anything, it made them even more impressive.
Karen: Ray's work was elegant; his creations all had personalities of their own. He managed to convey a tremendous amount of emotion through such limited figures. The body movement of a Harryhausen figure was unmistakable -as a kid, I would imitate the strange yet graceful moves of the Cyclops or Ymir. He made monsters, yet they were all beautiful monsters.
Karen: Harryhausen was so incredibly talented. Think about it: he could sketch, paint, sculpt, and even learned photography, so he take the pictures of the stop-motion figures himself. Any one of these fields would be difficult to take on, but he was proficient in all of them. His imagination knew no bounds. Look at the amazing array of creatures he designed over the years. From dinosaurs to mythical beasts to flying saucers, Ray could envision them all and bring them to life.
Karen: Modern CGI effects may look more "realistic" but to me they seem to lack the artistry that Ray's work brought to the screen. Where is the soul? Can anyone name a CGI 'artist'? I have no doubt that Ray's work will be remembered for as long as there are movies. I'm grateful to have experienced the thrill of seeing his films as a child, of having them make such a powerful impression upon me, of experiencing their magic and being able to close my eyes and picture the Cyclops or Talos whenever I please. Thank you Ray, for all the wonderful films.
I'd like to also point readers back to a previous post, regarding the (hopefully) soon to be released on DVD documentary, "Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan." This is a fabulous documentary!