04 April 2010

A Tribute to Ray Harryhausen + Clash of the Titans

Cinemagoers are abuzzed with excitement by Louis Leterrier's remake of "Clash of the Titans" which I caught on the big screen this Easter weekend. The special effects and fight scenes were dazzling, but lack the magical feel of the original film. The original might look dated by today's standards, but I daresay it boasts the more stellar cast (Laurence Olivier, Harry Hamlin, Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress, Burgess Meredith etc.) and had a superior script that revealed the whimsical nature of the Olympian Gods. I quickly dug out my DVD of the 1981 version and watched it as a wave of nostalgia overtook my senses. This was a flick I had taped off the TV broadcast as a young lad and played over and over again, marvelling at the fantastical creatures animated by Ray Harryhausen (who also co-produced the film).

Back in the days before computer technology special efx, Ray Harryhausen was drawing and making models and animating them 24 times for every second of film footage. The man is the pioneer and visionary, who made the the Kraken and Medusa and Pegasus, not to mention the true hero of the film - Bubo, the mechanical owl come to life. This is for Ray, without whom George Lucas ("Ray has been a great inspiration to us all in the special visual industry. The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much."), Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson (who wrote the foreward to this volume), Nick Park ("In my mind, he will always be the king of stop-motion animation.") might never have become the filmmakers they are today.

My Clash of the Titans (1981) DVD

I was very happy to purchase a signed copy of "The Art of Ray Harryhausen" from the Forbidden Planet Megastore in London on a recent trip there. Cost me all of 30 quid... it's a companion volume to the autobiographical "An Animated Life", which I am hoping to track down one day.

Signed by Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton!


Models of Bubo and scorpion from Clash of the Titans

Key drawing for Hydra sequence from Jason and the Argonauts

Key drawing for skeleton fight from Jason and the Argonauts

Key drawing of an attack by a Cyclopean centaurfor the Golden Voyage of Sinbad (scene was never incorporated into the film)

Key drawing for King of the Geniis

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