— Stop-Motion Great Turns 90 —
Today, June 29th 2010, is Ray Harryhausen’s ninetieth birthday.
Special effects innovator, stop-motion animator, concept artist, story generator, producer, and a genre icon, responsible for many of the more imaginative science fiction films and fantasies that shaped 20th century cinefantastique.
Beginning (from the genre fan’s point of view) with 1949’s MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, Harryhausen’s work captured the imaginations of millions. Inspired by his mentor Willis O’Brien, the effects man was kind and intelligent enough to give the public a look behind the scenes of the once secretive world of film effects, often appearing in his friend Forry Ackerman’s FAMOUS MONSTERS, and extensively in the pages of CINEFANTASTIQUE Magazine.
Some of his best known films are THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953, based in part by his friend Ray Bradbury’s The Foghorn), EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS (1956) 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957), THE 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958), JASON & THE ARGONAUTS (1963), FIRST MEN IN THE MOON (1964), ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (1966), THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1974) and the original CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981).
Often, Ray Harryhausen would generate the basic ideas and storylines for his films himself, using his artistic skills to create pre-production concept art to map out his larger-than-life imaginary adventures.
He’s probably the very first genre film fan to become a filmmaker himself, and his own films would inspire many others.