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Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan – Review

ray harryhausen special effects titan

Ask anybody of a certain age what fantasy films they enjoyed as a child and I am sure most will mention one which had the work of Ray Harryhausen as a part of it, such as Jason and the Argonauts or The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad.

This new in-depth documentary, Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan,  follows the career of Ray Harryhausen from his amazement after seeing the original King Kong in the cinema’s up to his work on many fantasy films until his retirement after Clash Of The Titans in 1981. Harryhausen’s expertise in stop-motion animation finds many fans in the well-known filmmakers of today who give their views in this documentary – Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, James Cameron, Joe Dante, Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, John Landis and Peter Jackson to name but a few.

French director Gilles Penso’s documentary is a fabulous tribute to the legendary fx wizard who brought life to clay and latex and created some of cinema’s most loved creatures. It is constructed well, using clips from his films, rare behind the scenes shots and test footage, inter-cut with comments from those mentioned above as well as the man himself.  Harryhausen never directed a feature film, and yet we immediately identify the films on which he worked as his films.

ray harryhausen with models

Few people will recall who directed The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans, or any of the Sinbad movies, but we all know the name of the man who brought the films to life with his amazing stop-motion animation.

If your a fan of the man and his work then this documentary is a must. The Blu ray released by Arrow Films has a good 1080p transfer if a little soft in places. The clips from the films vary in quality but do not detract from the enjoyment of the film.

Extras are plentiful starting with an interesting audio commentary on the film, featuring director Gilles Penso, producer Alexandre Poncet, co-producer Tony Dalton and Tim Nicholson. There are interview with many of the people who had a part in making the film as well as a wonderful original trailer montage featuring most of his films. A fascinating look at a remarkable artist. Recommended.





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