Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Death of a Sorcerer....

Let the record show that the only artist with a more interesting list of unrealized projects than the late Ray Harryhausen was the late Orson Welles. War of the Worlds? Sinbad on Mars? Wrath of the Titans? Ya had me from the Git Go. Ah but Ray was famously irascible, I think the sheer wearisome burden of pitching upwards to two perfectly good ideas for every one that got approved just got him down after a while. And sadly he lived just long enough to see his chosen venue of artistic-technical expression become a veritable museum piece. Surpassed by a vast allocation of computer programmability all great looking but about as spontaneous and surprising as a granite block. That by the way, is Harryhausen's lasting achievement in stop motion animation he made everyone from Mighty Joe Young to the reptilian Ymir to Gwangi the Allosaurus, mechanical models all, into actors creature seemingly capable of spontaneity. If you don't believe me screen "Twenty Million Miles to Earth" someday on a double bill with "Jurassic Park". Spielberg's dinosaurs are lovingly, realistically rendered and are utterly affectless and charmless in every way. Harryhausen's brutish Ymir from Venus fairly breathes pathos, he is like Stanley Kowalski on a last drunken tear thru the streets. And that, making mere rubber and metal armatures into performers with subtle traits, remains Harryhausen's lasting achievement. So I'd like to reiterate once again a humble plea to the Harvard Film Archive to dedicate some screening time this summer to this great artist's work.

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