By Oliver Gettell
5:20 PM EDT, May 7, 2013
Over the course of his imaginative and painstaking career, the stop-motion animation wizard Ray Harryhausen created some of the most dazzling effects to grace the silver screen, and all without the benefit of computer-generated imagery.
Following are but a few of Harryhausen's memorable creations.
"Mighty Joe Young" (1949)
As a teenage boy, Harryhausen had been awestruck by the original "King Kong," which was released in 1933, so the opportunity to work alongside that film's animation guru, Willis O'Brien, on another giant-ape movie was something of a dream come true.
In the clip below, Harryhausen discusses his work on "Mighty Joe Young" and shows off the original armature used to animate the title character.
"Jason and the Argonauts" (1963)
Many of Harryhausen's adventures were set in the ancient world, including 1958's "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" and the groundbreaking "Jason and the Argonauts." As trumpeted in the trailer below, "Jason" features such spectacles as "the towering bronze giant Thalos," "vulturous harpies," "the dreaded seven-headed hydra" and a "merciless army of skeletons."
That last effect took four months to create for less than five minutes of screen time, Harryhausen told The Times in 2010.
"First Men in the Moon" (1964)
Harryhausen's follow-up to "Jason" was an adaptation of the 1901 H.G. Wells story about Victorian astronauts landing on the moon and encountering insectoid aliens. The trailer below boasts that "First Men in the Moon" was "filmed in Dynamation," the branding used for Harryhausen's animation.
"One Million Years B.C." (1966)
Harryhausen had a lifelong fascination with dinosaurs, which he drew on for this caveman adventure starring Raquel Welch. In the interview clip below, Harryhausen explains how a clever switcheroo helped sell the illusion of Welch being carried off by a pterodactyl.
"Clash of the Titans" (1981)
Arguably Harryhausen's most amibitious work, "Clash of the Titans" was one of the only projects for which he enlisted the help of other animators. With Jim Danforth and Steve Archer, Harryhausen brought to life such mythological creatures as the Medusa, the Pegasus and the Cyclops.
In the clip below, Harryhausen talks about his work on the film and his inspiration.
"I originally got interested in fantasy at a very early age," he says. "My parents were great cinemagoers in the early days, in the '20s, and they used to take me to these unusual pictures like 'Metropolis' and 'The Lost World' when I was about 3 or 4. I think that started it. I was fascinated with the unusual."
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