Stop-motion animation pioneer Ray Harryhausen’s menagerie of famous creatures has undergone a full restoration.
Long before the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park opened to door to the popularisation of the burgeoning field of CGI special effects, it was the late Ray Harryhausen who would enchant cinema audiences around the world with a collection of animated fantastical beasts.
The stop-motion maestro’s profession began in earnest as a junior technician on Mighty Joe Young (1949) under the tutelage of the legendary Willis O’Brien, who had brought King Kong to life in 1933.
Ray Harryhausen’s 33-year career would span 16 movies and some of the greatest special effects creations in film history, including the celebrated skeleton sequence in Jason and the Argonauts (1963).
Harryhausen built his monsters using a latex covering over a steel frame, which he could articulate. Consequently, the rubber has deteriorated over the years, leaving the models in a fragile state.
However, extensive conservation work has been undertaken by The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation (see gallery below) to preserve the creatures for future generations.
Next year marks what would’ve been Harryhausen’s 100th birthday and to celebrate, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is holding the Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema exhibition set to feature a wide range of Harryhausen’s newly restored creations.
The films of Ray Harryhausen inspired a generation of filmmakers including Steven Spielberg, John Landis, Peter Jackson, and George Lucas who once said, “Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars.”