Ray Harryhausen: An Inspiration

I was having lunch and watching an episode of Scrubs when I got a text message from my dad. What the text said, completely shifted my mood…Ray Harryhausen had passed away at the age of 92. My heart sank. Today, we lost a legend.

When I was a little kid, I loved movies. That’s obvious. One of the first movies I remember seeing was Jason and the Argonauts.

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In this movie is a very famous scene featuring a group of skeleton soldiers rising from the dirt and facing off against the Argonauts. It’s an incredible achievement that took him over four months to complete. It’s one of many amazing scenes in the film that intensified my passion for film. Yeah, yeah, I know a lot of people would say it looks fake and not as top-notch as movies today that overuse CGI and ultimately ruin the film. I think it still holds up just fine today.

Another favorite of mine is The Clash of the Titans…and I mean the 1981 version starring Harry Hamlin…not the god-awful remake. *Shudder* So terrible. 

The Medusa sequence is one of the most terrifying and nail-biting scenes in film. This is of course aided by Harryhausen’s brilliant model.

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See? Isn’t that so much better than whatever that was in the remake? Ya know, since in the myth she was supposed to be absolutely hideous. She’s so much scarier and more convincing here. Every single snake on her head had to be animated by hand. Read that again. Every. Single. Snake. That’s right. He did that.

Ray Harryhausen made several other greats including The Mysterious Island, featuring giant bees, crabs, and birds, the 7th Voyage of Sinbad, featuring a hungry cyclops. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, featuring a Centaur, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, featuring a fearsome sabre-toothed cat and The Valley of Gwangi featuring dinosaurs in Mexico.

I grew up on all of these wonderful films. Today, we lost a revolutionary man. Not just in the field of special and visual effects, but in the film industry itself. He inspired millions and millions of people including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, John Landis, James Cameron, and myself.

He will be missed. But he will not be forgotten.

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Rest in Peace Ray Harryhausen. June 29th, 1920-May 7th, 2013.

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