The original King Kong (1933) was an inspirational film for many… but for one man, Ray Harryhausen, it opened his eyes to the potential of animation within film, and a creative genius was born. Today, that creative genius has passed away at the age of 92.
His first feature film as an assistant animator was 1947’s Mighty Joe Young, an obvious wink and nod to the film that started the whole monster genre. From there, he went on to work on many films throughout the next three decades, including; The 7th. Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, and his final film, and a long time favorite of mine, 1981’s Clash of the Titans.
His use of stop motion animation within live action films became known as Dynamation. Although this technique is now considered quite antiquated and looks quaint by today’s CGI-heavy standards, it was revolutionary at the time and gave birth to a wide array of imaginative scenes and indelible images.
Harryhausen’s influence is apparent in many films today, and on the occasion of his death today, many filmmakers have stood up and acknowledged his influence on their work. My fondest memories belong to Clash of the Titans… not only was Calibos a frightening visage for a young child to see, but Medusa, her hair of serpents wriggling and writhing as Perseus approached, was enough fuel to feed my imagination for years to come.
My favorite homage however comes from Pixar’s Monsters Inc. The sushi restaurant they dine in is named, “Harryhausens”.
With that, I want to say… rest in peace Mr. Harryhausen, and thank you for all that you had done to enrich and enlighten all of our imaginations and movie going experiences.
Cornelius J. Blahg