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Special effects genius Ray Harryhausen spent his life doing the impossible. He made completely unreal, imaginary things believable. From Jason and the Argonauts to Mighty Joe Young to The Three Worlds Of Gulliver, he marveled audiences for decades with his inventive approach, and in doing so, pioneered his own animation technique called Dynamation. Perhaps more importantly, he also inspired an entire generation of future filmmakers with his technological marvels and showed the world the possibilities of stop motion.
This morning, Harryhausen’s family released a statement informing the general public the visionary passed away this morning at the age of 92. Messages of condolences and tributes from the likes of Patton Oswalt, Jon Favreau and Edgar Wright have since poured in, and by the end of the day, an incredible number of further praises will come from cinematographers, special effects artists, monster movie fans and students of cinema.
Harryhausen was born in Los Angeles in 1920. Together with classmate Ray Bradbury, he began watching monster movies at a young age and by his thirties, was contributing regularly to major Hollywood motion pictures. For decades after that, Harryhausen continued to churn out groundbreaking work, most notably the fight scene with the skeletons in Jason and the Argonauts.
When movie fans talk about the history of cinema, the names that most often come up tend to be those belonging to actors and directors. That’s understandable, but it doesn’t paint the entire picture. Without Harryhausen movies wouldn’t look quite as beautiful today, and for that reason, we are all very much in his debt.
Cinema Blend’s thoughts go out to the Harryhausen family. Ray had a great run, but I think I speak for everyone when I say I still wish he’d been able to give all of us another wonderful ninety-two years of brilliant ideas.