Revealing the complexities of Ray Harryhausen’s special effects
The work of special-effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen, who died Tuesday at 92, was chronicled in a 2004 memoir he wrote with British film historian Tony Dalton titled “Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life.”
In the book, Harryhausen noted that he was especially proud of the skeleton sword fight in the 1963 film “Jason and the Argonauts.” The complex sequence illustrates the time, patience and concentration such work entailed.
“I had three men fighting seven skeletons and each skeleton had five appendages to move in each separate frame of film,” he wrote in his book. “This meant at least 35 animation movements, each synchronized to the actors’ movements. Some days I was producing just 13 or 14 frames a day; or to put another way, less than one second of screen time per a day, and in the end the whole sequence took a record four and a half months to capture on film.”
In his review of the book for the Los Angeles Times, film critic Richard Schickel wrote that Harryhausen “is the last, therefore completely treasurable, master of an admittedly minor, entirely enjoyable, almost lost art.”
“After him, there’s nothing but pixels,” Schickel wrote. “Which means we’re all a little bit poorer when we go to the movies. Or should I say a little less lucky?”
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