Ray Harryhausen, the pioneering visual effects artist perhaps best known for his work on 1963’s “Jason and the Argonauts,” died today in London. He was 92.
The announcement was made on the official Facebook page of The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation, which noted that “Harryhausen’s genius was in being able to bring his models alive. Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray’s hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right, just as important as the actors they played against and in most cases even more so.”
A beacon of the film world who was inspired by “King Kong,” Harryhausen perfected the art of stop motion effects with complicated puppet designs in films ranging from “Mighty Joe Young” to “Jason and the Argonauts.” While he worked within the Hollywood system, Harryhausen’s delicate, handmade approach strikes a telling contrast to the CGI effects of today’s movies.
“The computer seems to be able to do anything,” Harryhausen said in an interview later in his life. “So people take it for granted, I think. There’s something that happens in stop-motion that gives a different effect — like a dream world — and that’s what fantasy is about.”
Harryhausen’s last official credit was a cameo in John Landis’ “Burke and Hare,” although he receives a note of gratitude in the credits for the forthcoming “Sinbad: The Fifth Voyage” and appears in the documentary “Into the Dark: Exploring the Horror Film.”
Below, check out the famous skeleton fight scene from “Jason and the Argonauts”: