Ray Harryhausen -- the Father of Modern Special Effects?

Reply Tue 1 Jun, 2004 11:23 am

Came across this article on CNN regarding the master of stop-motion animation effects which is basically the kernel for today's CGI. He was way ahead of his time and created many techniques leading up to his apothesis of stop-motion, "Clash of the Titans." One could cite "The Nightmare Before Christmas" as the epitome of the technique but the contribution of Harryhausen to modern special effects is unmistakable.

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Reply Tue 1 Jun, 2004 11:56 am
His mastery spans at least one generation.

As a child, the film I enjoyed the most was "Jason and the Argonauts". No special effects have impressed me more. It was magic.

20 years later, I had my small son jumping over my lap, when Medusa appeared in "Clash of the Titans". He remembers that film with the same excitement.
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Reply Tue 1 Jun, 2004 12:03 pm
As the article suggests, the real pioneer of motion picture special effects was Willis O'Brien.

That, of course, does nothing to diminish Harryhausen's achievements: he was a true genius.

And what's this about "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" not being a good film?
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Reply Tue 1 Jun, 2004 12:27 pm
Of course, Willis O'Brien is credited with pioneering the technique and should share the title -- exactly why I did include a question mark.

"Beast" was adapted from a Ray Bradbury story and lost most of the poetic prose in favor of a monster epic approach. Still a sci-fi cult favorite and when I originally saw the film, the suspense was handled quite well. Of course, it's easy to become jaded with the formula -- it hasn't exactly been left alone.

Harry Redmond Jr & Sr who worked on the special effects for "King Kong" went uncredited in that film (!) but also contributed to the history of special effects.

Where Harryhausen excelled was the almost seamless integration of the automation into the live action which is the goal of modern CGI effects, culminating with the grand battles scenes of "The Return of the King."
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