He fashioned the creatures – marvels, wonders, demons and monsters – of my childhood dreams and nightmares.
A twentieth century inheritor of the centuries-old craft of puppetry, he took the playthings of his fantastical imagination – no more than a few inches high – gave them life and breath, empowered them with emotions and turned them into the often huge and towering beings that became the delights and terrors of several generations of wide-eyed youngsters – many of whom grew up to be amongst the most amazing filmmakers of all time.
Before digital animation, Ray Harryhausen – having learnt his art from one of great masters of the craft, King Kong's Willis O'Brien – created unforgettable moments of fantasy cinema: dinosaurs, sea monsters, snake-haired women, multi-limbed goddesses, flying horses, minotaurs and armies of skeletal warriors. He whisked us back in time to witness the brutal struggles of prehistoric life on earth and carried us off to the fantasy realms travelled by Jason, Perseus and Sindbad.
A modest, courteous, gentleman whom I had the privileged to meet with and interview on several occasions, Ray was, without question, a master artist who conjured life into the inanimate toys of his ingenious imaginings and then let them lose to roar and rage their way into the annals of movie history.
You can view some of Ray's cavalcade of creatures in this blog posted in 2010 to mark his 90th birthday.
And here's one to entice you to click that link!