Ray Harryhausen is the greatest artist in stop-motion animation. With a career that spans 40 years of cinema, he became a by-word for innovation, excitement and entertainment in the world of special effects and film fantasy.
Born 1920 in Los Angelas, Harryhausen from an early age was facinated with stop-motion animation due to seeing King Komg at the agee of thirteen. Ray Harryhausen was given an opertunity to persue a dream and learn from the greatest of animators, Willis O’Brien. American Film magazine, (June 1981 p 49) “I had a magnicficent two year period while working on Mighty Joe Young with Obie”, “covering the long perproduction and photography. He was so involved in production problems that I ended up animating about eighty-five percent og the picture”.
After ganing vital experience with Willis o’Brien and having completed studies at the University of Southern California in painting, drama, sculpting, anatomy and photography. Ray Harryhausen produced a series of short films called Mother Goose Fairy Tales. Coming to the final phase of the series, Ray Harryhausen was approached by a young producer, Charles Schneer,and formed a productive patnership which lasted over thrity years. Ray Harryhausen and Charles Schneer went to work and produced a whole series during the science fiction boom of the 1950’s. Titles included It Came from Beneath the Sea, Earth versus the Flying Saucers and in 1957, Twenty Million Miles to Earth.
It was also in this period that Ray Harryhausen pioneered his new form of stop-motion animation – Dynamation – which then became a key feature consistant through out all of his work.
Breaking away from the 1950’s had Ray Harryhausen and Charles Schneer leaving science fiction behind and venture into the world of fantasy, fairy tale amd mythology.. in the decaide of 1950 to 1960, they both produced the highly acclaimed Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. This was also they’re first opportunity to use colour film.
In 1963, Ray Harryhausen produced his most famous and successful film Jason and the Argonants. Quoted by Adrian Wootton interviewing Ray Harryhausen, (1)”Jason and the Argonants is also regarded by Ray Harryhausen himself, as his most complete film, incorporating as it does much of his seamless and yet outstanding stop-motion animation in many memorable sequences”.
Ray Harryhausen finally brought the curtain down on his film career in 1982 with his and Charles Schneer greek mythological epic, Clash of the Titans. In 1991, at the sixty-fourth Academy awards, Ray Harryhausen received belatent recognition for his abilities and received the Gordon E.Sawyer Award for Technial Achievement.
Since his retirement from active film-making in 1982, Ray Harryhausen has been rightly recognised for his achievements in stop-motion animation. This period has seen a recovery of his work as technically innovative, highly artist and very distintive in an aestheic visual style. Due to his deadication and ground-breaking talents Ray Harryhausen is seen as the godfather of the 1950’s B-movies, and an icon to the next generation of film makers – Joe Dante director of Gremlins (1984), Innerspace (1987), James Cameron producer of The Terminator/T2 and Titanic (1984) and Dennis Muren visual effects supervisor of Jurassic Park (1997), Terminator 2 (1997) and Star Wars (1977 – 1999).
Qouted from an artical by Paul Mandell Harryhausen Animtes Annual Sci-Tech Awards, (2)”His success could best by measured by those whose careers were directly inspired by him. Said stop-motion master Jim Danforth, “Ray Harryhausen is more than a great animator. He’s a storyteller.” “Ray’s films affected an entire gereration of people,” Dennis Muren, ASC affirmed. “George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were directly inspired by his images. We all owe a lot to Ray. His importance and success in his difficult field kept me and the other going when we were younger. He was a great role model for all of us. More than a techician, he’s an exceptional artist.”
Although the films in which Ray Harryhausen participated in, were seen largely as low-budget B-movies. In more recent years Ray’s achievement in the arts and his distingtive aestheic claims to his status of an auteur, are due to his particular approaches he innovated while creating his animations. His stylised approache can be seen in varied works like Eric Fogel’s Celebrity Death Match seires(1998) and Henry Selick’s Nightmare Before Christmas(1993). Ray’s comprehenceive studies gave