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“Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan”

A Celebration

Amos Lassen

“Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan” is a celebration of the life and work of special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen. For those who are unfamiliar with Ray Harryhauser, he is an auteur of special effects whose fantastical monsters are the stuff of movie legend. He is now the subject of filmmaker Gilles Penso’s latest documentary that celebrates what he has done and how he has influenced some of today’s greatest living mainstream directors, including Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson (who all are seen here). We begin in 1949 with “Mighty Joe Young and move forward to 1981 and “Clash of the Titans”.


When he was a youngster, Harryhausen studied early SFX movies and the work of Georges Méliès, evolving their processes while he developed his own techniques. Here we have directors sharing the scenes that have been influenced by Harryhausen.


For many, Harryhausen’s stop-motion creations that he calls ‘creatures’ remind us of our youth and the films that are distinctively his. Penso’s documentary crucially allows us to see these creatures out of context, often no bigger than a foot tall and we get a chance to appreciate the level of detail and care the artist put into his creations. We go to his London workshop where the beloved characters are now stored – showing off the tremendously prolific out-pouring of clay beings of all kinds and sizes that could be manipulated at a painstaking pace to create the desired effect.


The film puts Harryhausen into proper perspective and we see him as most innovative and important special effects artist. Harryhausen’s place in cinema history is richly deserved not only because of his technical skill, imagination and sheer love of creation the man brought to all of the projects he was involved with but also because he has been such a gentleman.

This is a straightforward, talking-head documentary, spliced with film sequences, dailies, test shots and newly released on-set footage but it also an loving, illuminating and constantly entertaining.

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Bonus Materials include:

Interviews with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Peter Lord, Rick Baker

12 Interview outtakes with Joe Dante, John Lasseter, Nick Park and more!

A message to Ray

Deleted Scenes

On the set of Sinbad

Paris Cinematheque Q&A

London Gate Theater Q&A

Audio commentary with the filmmakers

Original Trailer

Ray Harryhausen Trailer Reel

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