Tuesday, May 7, 2013

R.I.P., Ray Harryhausen

The loss of both Adam Yauch and Maurice Sendak within the same week last May hit me hard. More than I could recall with those of many famous people, their deaths had a profound impact on me because of the ways that their lives and work were so formative for me in different stages of growing up. A year later, I could say much of the same about losing Roger Ebert and Ray Harryhausen within the same month. 

I have vivid memories of staying up way too late on sleepovers with my cousins, searching my grandma's hallowed cable channels for something to watch, and deciding on movies like Clash of the Titans and Jason and the Argonauts. Snuggled in a sleeping bag, I took in the iconic images of those films, and they never left me. Years later, I would realize that renowned effects artist Harryhausen was owed the majority of the credit for those lasting impressions.

Looking back, the influence of Harryhausen's stop-motion-animated creations was not only hugely felt by me as a kid, but also clearly by the filmmakers whose work I was obsessed with at the time, like Tim Burton and Steven Spielberg. His innovative work brought to life creepy, beautiful, wondrous characters with personality and power that CGI still struggles to rival. Harryhausen will be missed, but his legacy will last as long as the movies'.

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