Your summer of special effects-laden blockbuster films owes a debt of gratitude to film pioneer Ray Harryhausen. The stop-motion-animation legend died on Tuesday, according to a Facebook statement from The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation . Even when I didn’t know his name, I was watching Ray Harryhausen’s work. Every Thanksgiving in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the local TV station would run the 1949 film, Mighty Joe Young . This King Kong knock-off featured an over-sized, but not gargantuan gorilla running amuck in the city. Unlike the more famous and ill-fated Kong, Mighty Joe gets to live. The most remarkable thing, though, was that the gorilla who ran, played, jumped around and interacted with a live girl was a man-made creation — wholly stop-motion animation (just like the 1933 King Kong, which influenced a young Harryhausen), and created by a Ray Harryhausen. By the time I saw 1981’s Clash of the Titans, I was well aware of Harryhausen’s stop-motion work, as his cultural influence was already well in evidence. There’s a fair bit of stop-motion animation work in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope . The best example, and perhaps most memorable, is the chess match scene between… Read full this story
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