Ray Harryhausen 1920-2013

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The movie industry has lost a legend this week as stop-motion animator and special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen reportedly passed away earlier today in London, England. The man brought fantastical stories to life using only his bare hands, having provided the creatures for such classics as Jason and the Argonauts, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Mighty Joe Young, and of course, his final film, the original Clash of the Titans. He won numerous awards throughout his career including the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for his technological contributions to the industry at the 1992 Oscars. His work also greatly influenced the current generation of sci-fi and fantasy directors including everyone from George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to Peter Jackson. He was 92 years old.

Harryhausen’s passing was first announced via the Facebook page for The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation:

“The Harryhausen family regret to announce the death of Ray Harryhausen, Visual Effects pioneer and stop-motion model animator. He was a multi-award winner which includes a special Oscar and BAFTA… Harryhausen’s genius was in being able to bring his models alive. Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray’s hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right, just as important as the actors they played against and in most cases even more so.”

Although the technology has changed, the artistry of his films still hold up today. They provide a reminder of not only how far we’ve come, but also how powerful visual effects can be. He will be missed, but he most definitely will not be forgotten. What are your favourite Ray Harryhausen films?

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  • Wintle

    A few years ago I skipped work for a special presentation of Jason and the Argonauts with Ray Harryhausen in attendance. He was signing books and DVDs afterwards, and I had already spent all my cash on a ticket to get there (I hitchhiked home), so I went up empty-handed and thanked him for inspiring me to pursue animation. It was the only time I’ve been starstruck. He was very kind and after I got over my nerves we talked shop for a bit. As I was leaving he gave me the thumbs-up and told me to “keep it up”. I was on the verge of quitting the industry, and his encouragement pulled me back in. Thanks, Ray!

  • Buttonman88

    Thanks for firing all our imaginations, Ray.
    Motion-Stop

  • Owozifa

    Man, I knew this day was coming sooner or later…

    I was always partial to the Sinbad films when I was a kid. Jason and the Argonauts too. Between Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger and Jason I’m not sure which to choose.

  • Indianamcclain

    R.I.P

  • Liney

    Legend. Simple as that.

    I expect anyone who (like me) saw some of those films on TV as a kid will agree. Stuff like the skeletons sword fighting was just magical and left such a massive impression – one that I’ll never forget.

    So thanks Ray for sharing your imagination and vision.

  • 1138sw

    A true pioneer in halls of SFX! RIP Ray you indeed will be remembered!

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