Interview: Arnold Kunert on the 50th Anniversary DVD of "20 Million Miles to Earth"

20 Million Miles to Earth DVDArnold Kunert is the friend and agent of Ray Harryhausen, the legendary stop-motion animator and special effects wizard. In the past Arnold was interviewed at TheoFantastique in general on Ray’s work and career. In the following interview Arnold made some time to talk specifically about the colorized 50th anniversary edition of Ray’s classic film 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH.
TheoFantastique: This film has been a favorite of Harryhausen fans for decades since its release. The disc of special features in this anniversary edition includes commentary from folks like Rick Baker, John Landis, Tim Burton and other giants of Hollywood in fantasy films. So the film resonated with the well known members of its audience over the decades as well as among many more rank and file fans. It seems to stand out from other science fiction films from the same timeframe as well. Can you discuss some of the elements and features of this film that seem to make it memorable for fans?
Arnold Kunert: The most memorable aspect of the film is certainly the creature design. Of course, the European locations, most of them shot by a second unit before principal photography began, also add to the film’s appeal. Finally, Ray’s stop-motion animation is among the best of his career. Many visual effects artists consider the film one of their two or three favorite Harryhausen films for this reason.
TheoFantastique: I must admit that prior to watching the fiftieth anniversary edition of this film in its colorized version I was opposed to the colorization of classic black and white films, but color in this film is amazing and it has made me a convert to advocates of colorization. I know that in addition to this film Ray has also supervised the colorization of IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA and EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS. Can you describe how Ray came to the decision to colorize these films and how Legend came to be involved in the work that resulted in these fine pieces of work?
Arnold Kunert: Four or five years ago, I was contacted by a lady friend in San Diego who knew I was acquainted with Ray Harryhausen. That friend worked for a company called Legend Films, the president of which, Barry Sandrew, was the original inventor of colorization 15 years ago. Legend wanted to colorize one of Ray’s films, but I was originally reluctant to get involved, knowing how Ray felt about colorization and what had been done to 1949’s MIGHTY JOE YOUNG in the late 1980s. However, after I visited the Legend Films facility, my mind was changed and I convinced Ray to consider working with them. The rest is, as they say, history. Ray personally supervised all three of his black-and-white Columbia films, as well as two of Merian C. Cooper’s RKO films, SHE and THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME. Needless to say, Ray is very pleased with the results. Ray always wanted to do his black-and-white films in color, but the budgets wouldn’t allow for color. Now they are in color, exactly where they should have been 50 years ago.
Read the complete interview at TheoFantastique.

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