Monster Magician

Published May 7, 2013 by rmpixie

Ray Harryhausen 1920-2013

This pixie is bummed today.  Some sad news came down the wire:  Ray Harryhausen, special FX and animation pioneer, passed away at 92.

I remember as a kid being enthralled by all the monsters he created.  Back then, I had no idea who he was, I just wanted to see those movies with the sea monsters and the skeletons that fought with Sinbad.  I would drop everything, even on a sunny summer’s day, to stay in and watch one of his screen gems on T.V.  I fell in love with all those stop motion monsters, and always dreamed of seeing them up close one day so I could marvel at the sculpting genius.

I think my favourite movies have to be The Clash of the Titans and  20 Million Miles to Earth.  I saw Clash of the Titans when it came out in theatres, (yes, first run, and yes, I’m that old) and totally flipping out over all the monsters, Bubo, and Calibos, from his transformation to his demise.  More recently, during one of my bouts with insomnia, I came across 20 Million Miles to Earth on TCM in the wee hours.  I was once again blown away by the sculpting of the monster, which I now know is called the Ymir.  It was a decent enough story, but I actually felt bad for the Ymir as it destroyed Rome and the surrounding areas because of the life-like design.

Ray Harryhausen had an interesting life.  He was encouraged at an early age by his parents to imagine and pursue his dreams.  Please check out www.rayharryhausen.com, which is the official website authorized by the late Harryhausen and his wife.   It has an excellent, detailed account of  his life, work, foundation, and his accomplishments.  I also really enjoyed the interview with him included on the dvd extras of The Clash of the Titans.  He seemed like a lovely man who was passionate about his work, and I am glad he lived to 92 because he has left an incredible career and legacy behind.  Today I have seen such an outpouring of tributes to the man on Twitter alone that I am certain all of the hardworking directors, behind-the-scenes artists, film industry folk, and regular film nerds like myself, will shed a tear or two for the loss of this brilliant artist and visionary.

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