Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Animator and Animation Reviews... Ray Harryhausen...

Ray Harryhausen was born in 1920, In Los Angeles, California. His passion was for dinosaurs and anything fantasy related. His parents both encouraged him to pursue what he wanted to do, even if the chosen career wasn't what they would have considered usual. It was at Grammar school that he learned to make model miniature set pieces of Californian Missions. This took him to the next phase in which he began to make three-dimensional figures and sets that of course led him to make his own versions of prehistoric creatures. The Lost World and King Kong were two big nspirations for Ray when he was a child. The young Ray began to recreate the images of Kong by using marionettes or string puppets. His first attempts at stop-motion were, of course, dinosaurs and included a cave bear, a brontosaurus and a stegosaurus. Despite all his hard work, and working with big names like Willis O'Brien, Harryhausen had to wait until 1992 to achieve film immortality with an honourary Oscar, a long-overdue tribute to the one name that personifies visual magic. This was down to his amazing stop-motion work in films like Jason and the Argonauts, One Million Years B.C., Mighty Joe Young, Clash of the Titans, and The Sinbad films.

In Jason and the Argonauts we follow the story of Jason who has been prophesied to take the throne of Thessaly. In doing so, we embark on a great adventure with his assembled crew in which they must battle a giant bronze talos, a hydra, and an army of skeletons in a quest to claim the Golden Fleece. Ray Harryhausen applies similar stop-motion animation in this film to Wilis O'Brien's work in films such as The Lost World and King Kong. You can see how Willis O'Brien has influenced and inspired his successor. The particularly famous and groundbreaking scene in this film was with the skeletons and again, similar to Kong, i am impressed with how well the layers are composited and how effective the skeletons; they are way ahead of their time. I love watching classic adventure films like these, it remnds me f when i used to watch Xena and Hercules as a kid. Oh the memories! Anyway, i prefer this film to Kong because the genre is the same throughout.

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