Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ray Harryhausen 1920-2013

My goal with starting this blog was to explore my interest in film. I've learned a lot about what I like and don't. Along the way, however, I have become familiar with the names attached to the films I've loved since childhood. One of those names is Ray Harryhausen.

To date I've only blogged on two of his films, but as fate would have it, I had just finished Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and all of the DVD extras the day before learning of his death. I don't wish to expound about "our loss". He lived a full, and by all accounts, fulfilling life. And he gave to us so much, not only in his works, but with the works of those he inspired. Essentially pick a name in the realm of science fiction or fantasy, and you will find they were a fan of Harryhausen. His playful artistry made us believe in the impossible.

While the craft of stop motion is all too evident when viewed onscreen, it accomplished more than to add to the charm. You cannot watch his sequences (otherwise impossible with the technology of the day) without realizing that a human hand was at work. Shoot, move, repeat, thirty frames a second. The labor involved is unheard of in today's CGI world, and he hearkens back to the world of Fritz Lang. On a side note, the DVD I had for Metropolis had an extra explaining how the special effects had to be produced inside the camera itself, and the labor involved. It was truly amazing. Ray Harryhausen produced two to three minutes of footage a day of shooting. With this level of respect for the art and craft involved, I tend to find CGI boring.

I will leave you with a quote from George Lucas about hearing of his death:
"Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars"
Maybe, just maybe, you could add a great many other movies to that list.

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