In Memoriam: Ray Harryhausen

Every movie fan is sad today at the loss of Ray Harryhausen at age 92.  Born in 1920, his first job in Hollywood was working on Mighty Joe Young for Willis O’Brien, the pioneer of stop-motion animation whose work in King Kong inspired Harryhausen to follow in his footsteps.  That successful beginning launched a decades-long career as one of the leading visual effects masters in Hollywood.

Despite never winning, or even being nominated for, a competitive Oscar, Harryhausen left a lasting mark on the visual effects industry.  His style and creativity helped inspire a generation of filmmakers, including legends like Spielberg, Lucas, Burton and Cameron.  Harryhausen’s ability started to truly blossom with The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and its two sequels in the 50s and 60s, but continued all the way until his last movie in 1981, Clash of the Titans.  By that point, fantasy films were dying out (until Lord of the Rings revived them in the 2000’s), replaced by science fiction as the popular spectacle movie genre.

Harryhausen’s last film was released before I was born, and I grew up as a member of the Jurassic Park generation of special effects, but his films are still impressive today, especially my favorite, Jason and the Argonauts. Continue reading