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By Emma Thom on

A tribute to Ray Harryhausen (1920–2013), a giant of animation

Following the sad news of Ray Harryhausen's death, we would like to pay tribute to a true animation pioneer whose creativity, innovation and vision influenced many of the leading lights in film.

Harryhausen’s influence can be seen in the work of such filmmaking legends as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Peter Jackson, not to mention John Landis, with whom Ray enjoyed a strong personal relationship for many years.

Ray Harryhausen holding Beast model from Animal World © Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation
Ray Harryhausen holding Beast model from Animal World © Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation

Open any book on the history of cinema special effects and two names are always mentioned: Georges Méliès, the great French pioneer, and Ray Harryhausen, although Ray always preferred to be recognised for his contribution to visual effects. Whenever people talk about Ray’s work, they inevitably mention Dynamation, which broke new ground in animation.

Our relationship with Ray has always been strong—we were delighted to mount a retrospective of Ray’s work here several years ago and, since 2010, we have worked in close partnership with the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, created to celebrate and safeguard his legacy.

One comment on “A tribute to Ray Harryhausen (1920–2013), a giant of animation

  1. I have great memories of visiting the exhibition in 2006 (shortly after the birth of my daughter). There was something special about being close to the models and the realisation of how Ray worked towards creating his vision within the constraints of budget and technology. I know that he always felt uncomfortable revealing his working methods as he saw the effects as illusions; once the illusion was explained it revealed its magic. For me, the magic wasn’t in his illusions, it was in his storyboards and the intricacy of his models.

    I am watching VALLEY OF THE GWANGI (1969) in tribute!

    Dirk Malcolm

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