Movies

Ray Harryhausen

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There are certain entities that, if not for their existence, the world would’ve been very different. The list is probably shorter than we might like to imagine. But in the world of movie special effects, it would be hard to conceive of anything without Ray Harryhausen, who died today at 92.

Harryhausen was the King of stop motion, which is to say images made up of thousands of single cell photos of miniatures, in order to create the illusion of movement. Painstaking is a huge understatement. The method was born before him (King Kong and less famous examples before it) but he would perfect it in flicks like Jason And The Argonauts and Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad. Before computer graphics sterilized everything, Harryhausen was building real things and pouring his heart into bringing them to life, taking the medium to lengths unimagined before him and impacting everything that would come after.

My first exposure came around ’82 or ’83, when the local UHF station, my beloved WDRB 41, got the rights to air Clash of The Titans. It was new and prestigious enough to be aired in prime time, and since I was living to see it thanks to the constant commercials they were airing during the cartoons, my parents let me stay up to watch it. Like millions of other kids and kids at heart around the planet, the images (especially Medusa) will stay with me forever.

Here’s to you, Ray.

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