The man responsible for the fantastical elements and chilling creatures of film classics like Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans passed away today.
The official Facebook page for the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation has a detailed obituary that details highlights from the master artist’s biography and credits. With simple clay and an eye for precision, Ray Harryhausen laid the groundwork for how modern-day special effects look.
For my part, I’ll never forget being mesmerized when I was home alone at eight years old with Jason and the Argonauts on an old giant, color TV.
After years of reading Greek mythology and having only the occasional still drawing to fire my imagination, Harryhausen’s work helped me imagine what the Olympian menagerie looked and moved like.
The jittery menace of skeletal warriors, the sinuous creepiness of his Medusa, the water-breathing terror of a scaly Kraken… Harryhausen’s creation burned permanent impressions in my mind. And the minds of entire generations, too.
Certainly, scores of video game artists and designers owe their careers to him and, indeed, franchises like God of War have the Harryhausen DNA coursing through the ichor-filled veins. In an age where digital creativity enables epic creations without physical effort, stop-motion animation—and the design, sculpting and movement-mimicry skills that come with it—is nearly a lost art. So, rest in peace to a true icon.
Photo credit: American film animator and special effects creator Ray Harryhausen manipulates a figure of a serpent-like monster for stop motion animation, circa 1965. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)