Log in

Today is movie trailblazer Ray Harryhausen's 90th birthday.

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 by

Today, June 29, Ray Harryhausen turns 90.

Harryhausen with skeleton maquette.

"Ray Harryhausen with skeleton maquette. Photo: Christopher Bahn, 2006/03/21."

Harryhausen is a man whose works have truly touched millions. His unduplicable special effects work has amazed, frightened and inspired people of all ages across the world.

He spearheaded and mastered stop-motion in a pre-computer time when all "special effects" were hands-on, and every effect he created was a work of art.

There is a physical weight to the impossible things that he put on the screen. An imperfect realism that renders the impossible almost too real. His work creates awe, no matter the age of the viewer.

Here in this video via AintItCool.com is nearly every creature the gentleman has ever created:

For this, Mr. Harryhausen is to be celebrated, and he is.

From guardian.co.uk's coverage of Harryhausen's birthday celebration in Britain:

It was nearing the end of Bafta's Ray Harryhausen 90th birthday tribute at the BFI Southbank last Saturday that special effects makeup maestro Rick Baker took to the stage to offer his praise. For the previous two hours or so, a stunning list of the movie industry's biggest, most innovative and respected names had, in person or via video messages, offered their undying love and gratitude to Harryhausen and his work, all offering incredibly specific tales of when they first encountered his unique contribution to cinema and how greatly it affected them. For Baker, the problem he faced was how could he say anything that had not been already said – even the "we are all children of the Hydra's teeth" line had been used. Twice. So, the six-time Oscar winner asked a question that, upon reflection, is rather terrifying, something no one else there would have dared to even speculate on: What if Ray Harryhausen had never been born? "I'd be asking you if you wanted fries with that ... Peter Jackson would be shearing sheep."

The Children of the Hydra in battle mode.

"The Children of the Hydra. Scene from the film Jason And The Argonauts, Copyright 1963 Morningside Worldwide Pictures."

After that it was impossible not to consider how different cinema would be without such an inspiring figure. Just going by the list of acolytes who contributed to the evening alone, we'd have no Star Wars, no Terminator, no Toy Story, no Pan's Labyrinth, no Edward Scissorhands, no Jaws, no Shawshank Redemption, no Wallace and certainly no Gromit. Those are just the collateral damage, without Harryhausen there would be no Jason And The Argonauts, no 7th Voyage Of Sinbad and no 20 Million Miles To Earth. That's not a world I'd want to live in. It wouldn't be much fun.


Best of all was Harryhausen's longtime friend Ray Bradbury, who told the tale of how they met, aged 18, for the first time outside the house of mutual pal Forrest J Ackerman (the man who coined the term "sci-fi" – these gentlemen pretty much invented everything). Invited back to check out Harryhausen's dinosaur models, Bradbury decided the two should be best friends and have spoken or met each other at least once a month for the last 72 years. I don't think anyone there failed to tear up over that. Beautiful.

Positively wonderful. Thank you, Harry.

Ray Harryhausen and his works.

His official autograph mailer handout.

For more, visit rayharryhausen.com.

(Skeleton photos via foursecondmemory.com. Autograph photo via movieeye.com. Inspiration via Dr. Abominable.)

Leave a Reply