Special Effects Legend Ray Harryhausen Has Passed Away at Age 92
Legendary filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson and George Lucas are household names, but they might have never become the filmmaker's they are today without Ray Harryhausen. The special effects legend was responsible for groundbreaking, mind-blowing effects from films of decades past like Mighty Joe Young, Jason and the Argonauts and the original Clash of the Titans, and the aforementioned directors have all sited Harryhausen as one of their major influences in cinema. Sadly, Harryhausen's family issued a statement announcing the effects genius has died at age 92.
Here's a video compilation of Ray Harryhausen's creations from the big screen:
The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation issued a statement on their Facebook page (via BloodyDisgusting) with the sad news. Harryhausen's work was inspired by another classic effects mastermind: Willis O'Brien. His work in the original 1933 King Kong inspired Harryhausen's fascination and obsession with animated models. Funnily enough, he saw that film with author Ray Bradbury, his boyhood friend. Films like It Came from Beneath the Sea, 20 Million Miles to Earth, The Mysterious Island, One Million Years B.C. and more all saw his spectacular work on the big screen.
The statement from Harryhausen's family sites these words of praise over the years:
“Ray has been a great inspiration to us all in special visual industry. The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much.” “Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no 'Star Wars.'” - George Lucas
“'The Lord of the Rings' is my ‘Ray Harryhausen movie’. Without his life-long love of his wondrous images and storytelling it would never have been made – not by me at least.”
- Peter Jackson
“What we do now digitally with computers, Ray did digitally long before but without computers. Only with his digits.” - Terry Gilliam
"Ray, your inspiration goes with us forever." - Steven Spielberg
"I think all of us who are practioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now all feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant.
If not for Ray’s contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn’t be who we are."
- James Cameron
Harryhausen's work is a huge part of cinematic history, and as you can see, without his effects talents, many filmmakers might never have continued to push the limits of reality and try to bring unseen worlds and creatures to the big screen. Without the inspiration of people like Ray Harryhausen, films may have stayed grounded in a real world without monsters, science-fiction and unbelievable worlds far, far away. The work of Ray Harryhausen will live on for years to come both in the films he touched with his work, and in the generations of talents inspired to use their imagination in filmmaking. Rest in peace.