Harryhausen Tribute Roundup

Official Ray Harryhausen Website

It is with the deepest sadness that we must announce Ray’s death in London yesterday at 12.05.  Thankfully his passing was quick and painless, but it has of course left a very large void in the lives of Diana, Vanessa and everyone at the Foundation.  It really is the end of an era and a very bright, irreplaceable light has gone from our lives.

Since first making the announcement on Facebook and Twitter yesterday afternoon, we have been overwhelmed be the number of tributes and messages of sympathy from everyone.  We feel very humbled by your kind words and would like to extend our most heartfelt thanks to you all. 

Geoff Boucher
Entertainment Weekly Online
‘We lost a legend’: Ray Harryhausen remembered by Depp, Abrams, delToro, Gilliam, more

Guillermo del Toro, director, producer, screenwriter and author (Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim): “I lost a member of my family today. A man who was as present in my childhood as any of my relatives. No one will ever compare to Ray Harryhausen. He was a true pioneer, a man who took the mantle of stop-motion and elevated it to an art form. Like all great monster makers, he worked almost single-handed. He was designer, technician, sculptor, painter and cinematographer all at once. To my generation, and to every generation of monster lovers to come, he will stand above all. Forever. His monsters made millions of lonely children smile and hope for a better world- a world populated by Cyclops and griffons and the children of the Hydra. His knowledge, faith and dedication shaped generation after generation of filmmakers. I feel privileged to have met him and to be able to thank him personally for the incalculable amount of love and joy he brought into the world.”

Andy Greene
Famous Monsters of Filmland
Rest in Peace Ray Harryhausen: 1920-2013

Harryhausen’s genius was in being able to bring his models alive. Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray’s hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right, just as important as the actors they played against and in most cases even more so.

Michael Cavna
Comic Riffs
RIP Ray Harryhausen: Inspired as a child the special effects titan transformed fantasy on film

Fast-forward to 1949, and again a stop-motion gorilla fills the silver screen. Again it’s the guiding hand of O’Brien at the animated helm. Only this time, helping to summon most of the magic of motion is Ray Harryhausen. His boyhood addiction has propelled him into the business, to work on “Mighty Joe Young.” He had worked with animation while in the Army. Now, one of the great Hollywood careers is born.

Amanda Holpuch
The Guardian
Ray Harryhausen Dies

Directors including George Lucas and Lord of the Rings’ Peter Jackson credit Harryhausen with inspiring their work. Lucas once said there would be no Star Wars without Harryhausen, and Jackson said: “The Lord of the Rings is my Ray Harryhausen movie. Without his lifelong love of his wondrous images and storytelling it would never have been made – not by me at least.”

Los Angeles Times
Hollywood Reacts to death of visual effects guru Ray Harryhausen

“It took four months to put the skeleton fight scene together and it lasted less than five minutes,” Harryhausen said. “I remember working in my house as an amateur; I got mad at something and I threw the hammer on the floor and it went through a glass painting that had taken me a long time to make. I had to develop patience.”

Daniel W. Baldwin
Farewell, Ray Harryhausen: 1920-2013

What Ray understood that many still need to learn today is that no matter how breathtaking your special effects are, if they do not have a personality and serve the story, they are devoid of purpose.  While I have no doubt that many younger cinephiles will find the effects within these classics to be hokey or even unimpressive, you cannot tell me that each and every creature and being on screen doesn’t have its own unique personality.  This is something that unfortunately cannot be said of the majority of today’s lifeless CGI creations. Ray Harryhausen was more than just a master of special effects.  He was a master storyteller. 

Stuart Galbraith IV
Stuart Galbraith IV’s Cineblogarama
Ray Harryhausen

As charming and as generous with his time as Ray was, it wasn’t long before I realized I had no choice but to abandon the project, to not write that book.

Any book on Ray Harryhausen, at least one written by me, would ultimately have been critical of producer Ray Harryhausen for not serving the best interests of Ray Harryhausen the master animator. Conventional wisdom is that all of the shortcomings of Ray’s movies from 1955 onward rest on the shoulders of producing partner Charles H. Schneer. But my research, including interviews with Schneer himself, suggested Ray had a lot more creative control over their films and much earlier on than is usually assumed. In the later films especially, on which Ray was a very active co-producer, the movies became showcases for Ray’s set pieces at the expense of all else: story, direction, and pacing. Journeymen talent were hired in place of directors, writers, and composers who might have helped rather than hurt these later efforts. Certainly filmmakers like Cy Endfield and Don Chaffey and composers like Bernard Herrmann and Miklos Rozsa greatly enhanced those Harryhausen pictures while directors like Sam Wanamaker and Desmond Davis and composers such as Roy Budd and Laurence Rosenthal did not. Not that these people didn’t do fine work elsewhere, but I think Ray wanted others to work around his animation set pieces and he strenuously avoided those inclined to put their own personal stamp on movies he saw as exclusively his, even if their contributions would make the movie better.

Leonard Maltin
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy
The Game-Changer: Ray Harryhausen

When Ray Harryhausen’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad came out in 1958, it didn’t dominate the box-office as Iron Man 3 did this past weekend. That’s because fantasy and comic-book movies were considered grade-B material and kiddie fare in those days. The biggest hits of that year were films for grown-ups like The Bridge on the River Kwai (released in late ’57) and Peyton Place. Walt Disney’s Old Yeller was a hit but still ran a distant tenth. What Harryhausen and his producer-partner Charles H. Schneer did with films like Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, and The Three Worlds of Gulliver was to plant the seeds of imagination in the next generation of moviemakers: Spielberg, Lucas, Peter Jackson, and countless others. When George Lucas says that without him there probably wouldn’t have been a Star Wars, he isn’t exaggerating.

TCM’s In Memoriam to Ray Harryhausen,
Produced by Scott McGee

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the links.]

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