Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013)
The Last of the Old School Special Effects Masters has passed away. Now Harryhausen joins Albert Whitlock, Derek Meddings, L.B. Abbott and a small handful of others creating special visual effects for the Afterlife—all without computers!
Big Ray was no hired hand, though:
Harryhausen’s was the rare case of the special effects man determining the path of the motion picture routinely—essentially acting as a hands-on producer (even the directors usually hired by him and partner Charles H. Schneer were non-entities: so as not to interfere?). His individualized, specific form of stop-motion animation is intractably tied to the movies they were in and vice versa.
There is a certain tone to Harryhausen’s flicks, combined with an extravagant but classical sense of fantasy that puts his name directly on the same level as George Pal and Walt Disney as the Masters of Family-Friendly Fantasy. You might consider it a level of “cheese” in Harryhausen’s wholesome enterprises, but it is extremely earnest, and absolutely charming—and drips with the hard work of one solitary man.