Ray Harryhausen, Special Effects Master, Dies at 92

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Ray Harryhausen, Special Effects Master, Dies at 92
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Ray Harryhausen, Special Effects Master, Dies at 92

Special-effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen has died. He was 92.

Despite shifts in popular tastes and production techniques, Harryhausen's monsters and other-worldly creatures dazzled movie-goers for roughly four decades and showed that art and technology could go hand in hand.

Working before the advent of digital imagery, Harryhausen revolutionized stop-motion animation and the use of miniature models in films like "Mighty Joe Young" (1949), "Jason and the Argonauts" (1963) and "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" (1958).

His final film 1981's "Clash of the Titans" allowed him to unleash his genius to craft Krakens, flying horses, gorgons and other mythological beasts. It represents a triumph of stop-motion and model-making, an art form that has been largely swept aside in the age of computer graphics.

"Harryhausen's genius was in being able to bring his models alive," a statement from his family reads. "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."

Indeed, Harryhausen pushed the boundaries of what had been seen on film before. In particular, an animated battle in "Jason and the Argonauts" between mariners and a group of living skeletons is considered a significant milestone in film history -- as influential as the dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park" or the space stations in "2001: A Space Odyssey."

Harryhausen would win a special Oscar acknowledging his technical accomplishments in 1992. Tom Hanks, who presented Harryhausen with his statue, acknowledged the lasting impact the innovator had on filmmakers like James Cameron, Tim Burton Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg.

"Some people say 'Casablanca' or 'Citizen Kane'...I say 'Jason and the Argonauts' is the greatest film ever made," Hanks said.

 

 

 

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