Friday, 10 May 2013

R.I.P. Ray Harryhausen

I only found out a few minutes ago that Ray Harryhausen died three days ago on May 7th. This may be too soon to write a tribute, I'm still sitting here with tears in my eyes. I feel that a man of such greatness has passed from this Earth that the world will never be the same. All of today's "big directors" pay homage to him and name him as influential on their work. His funeral will be a who's who of the entertainment industry. Forget Jim Morrison, Ray Harryhausen's grave will be the place of pilgrimage for decades, maybe centuries to come.

He was truly an old-school special effects man. He did with his hands what today's people do with computers. What are his most famous films? Most people would name "Jason and the Argonauts" and "Clash of the Titans". (Don't you think that the recent remake of the latter fell flat in comparison with the original?) I would add "One Million Years B.C." to that list. But it's unfair to make choices. All of his films have their merits.

There's little else I can say about this great man. Let me just quote remarks made by a few directors.

George Lucas: "Ray has been a great inspiration to us all in special visual industry. The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much. Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars"

Peter Jackson: "The Lord of the Rings is my 'Ray Harryhausen movie'. Without his life-long love of wondrous images and storytelling it would never have been made – not by me at least".

James Cameron: "I think all of us who are practitioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant. If not for Ray’s contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn’t be who we are".

This is a well-known photo of Harryhausen with one of the skeletons that he made for "Jason and the Argonauts". Looking at it today it holds special symbolism. The skeleton is today's filmmaker, armed with all the weapons of modern technology, looking up helplessly at the giant who gave him life.

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