Yes, we live in a CGI universe these days. Love it or hate it, the worlds of many films, especially Avatar and Lord of the Rings, never could have been done without it.
Still, many genre fans like myself love stop motion animation, and there’s the hope it will one day be done again. Yeah, it takes a lot of time, and it’s nowhere near as smooth looking as CGI, but it has a wonderful, handmade quality that translates through whenever you watch it.
So it was wonderful to see that the master of stop motion animation, Ray Harryhausen, just turned 92 years old on June 29. Although Harryhausen didn’t create stop motion, his name is synonymous with the technology, and his work inspired many generations of genre fans, filmmakers, and special effects geniuses like Peter Jackson, and Rick Baker, just to name a few.
Harryhausen best known works were the Sinbad films like The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and my personal fave, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, the first film with Harryhausen’s effects I ever saw. He also did incredible effects for Jason and the Argonauts, First Men in the Moon, One Million Years B.C. (Hammer Studio’s highest grossing film before The Woman in Black), and his swan song, the original Clash of the Titans, which hit theaters in 1981.
Harryhausen’s work and influence continues to live on to this day, and his work is a major cornerstone for modern effects. Technology has sure advanced plenty since he was animating figures one frame at a time, but the enthusiasm and inspiration he gave to generations of young filmmakers in training will never be replaced by any new advancement.
So happy birthday Ray, and thank you for so much wonderful movie magic.