On Thursday, May 13th, I had the privilege to be invited to the press reception for the Fantastical World’s of Ray Harryhausen, held at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences located in Beverly Hills, California.
Those fortune enough to attend this special preview were heard saying “ wow” and ”amazing”, at each and every turn of the treasures showcased in the museum. Many people kept saying, “I remember that !”, regarding the iconic and timeless characters Ray Harryhausen has created for decades.
Each display had a description of the puppets, artwork, and story boards from Ray’s classic films and fans were able to enjoy clips of Ray’s films playing near the displays, as well as clips of Ray describing how he creates his magic.
Featured in the beautifully presented exhibition, are the rare and iconic original puppets, drawings, behind-the-scenes photographs, and storyboards, preserved by the master artist and storyteller himself.
As a kid, I remember how enthralled and amazed I was (and still am), at the “creatures” that were in each of Ray’s films. To me, they were not just puppets, but were actual breathing, living beings, with their own personalities and traits.
Ray breathed life in them in a way that nobody else did, nor in my view, has done since.
I don’t think I could pick a favorite character, as they all were “so cool”, but the Centaur, Cyclops, and Medusa were pretty close. I used to sculpt them in clay in art class as well as draw them. Ray’s characters also helped me and others, learn about Greek mythology as kids, without us even realizing it. Ray characters and stories were always so exciting and filled with action, that we had no idea we were learning too.
Below you will find some never before seen HD photographs of the many characters Ray has created from his iconic films, starting with his Wooly Mammoth character from his 1940 test reel, Evolution.
Evolution(1940′s) test reel:
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)
Ray has always lovingly preserved just about everything from his prolific career and on April 10th, 1986 Ray started the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation. The foundation is a charitable Trust to protect Ray’s name and body of work, as well as archiving, preserving and restoring his extensive collection. Ray’s daughter, Vanessa, is also a Trustee for her father.
In 1992 Ray received the much deserved Academy Awards Gordon E. Sawyer Award, which recognizes technological ontributions to the film industry.
One of those contributions by Ray was Dynamation .
Dynamation is an original technique that allows armatured models to be integrated with live action film. It gave Ray’s work a seamless integration between his characters (puppets), and the live action actors.
As well as creating the special effects and puppet characters for many movies, Ray has also produced and directed many films. He has received credit for writer (story), for a few of the iconic and still popular Sinbad films.
- The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) uncredited for story.
- The Golden Voyage of Sinbad(1974) story.
- Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger(1977) story.
On the following pages you will find many of Ray’s never before seen puppets, artwork, and storyboards from his vast career.
Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
War of the Worlds(1953)
This is an original stop motion puppet Ray created as a test to do the alien effects for the 1953 hit, War of The Worlds. Sadly, Ray ended up not doing the effects, but you can see his test film, this puppet, and much, much more on Ray’s great DVD, Ray Haryhausen: The Early Years Collection. This 2 disc set is one of the most comprehensive productions about Ray and his work that I have ever seen. It is a must have. Visit Ray’s great website to find much more information about Ray and his films.
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)