Special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen has passed away at the age of 92.
Harryhausen died Tuesday in London, where he had lived for decades. His death was confirmed by Kenneth Kleinberg, his longtime legal representative in the United States.
Though little known by the general public, Harryhausen made 17 movies that are cherished by devotees of film fantasy.
George Lucas, who borrowed some of Harryhausen’s techniques for his “Star Wars” films, commented: “I had seen some other fantasy films before, but none of them had the kind of awe that Ray Harryhausen’s movies had.”
The late science fiction author Ray Bradbury, a longtime friend and admirer, once remarked: “Harryhausen stands alone as a technician, as an artist and as a dreamer. … He breathed life into mythological creatures he constructed with his own hands.”
Harryhausen’s method was as old as the motion picture itself: stop motion. He sculpted characters from 7.5 cm to 38 cm (3 inches to 15 inches) tall and photographed them one frame at a time in continuous poses, thus creating the illusion of motion. In today’s movies, such effects are achieved digitally.
Harryhausen admired the three-dimensional quality of modern digital effects, but he still preferred the old-fashioned way of creating fantasy.
He and his wife, Diana, lived in London, where he fashioned bronze replicas of his movie creations. He often appeared at fantasy conventions and in 1992 received a special award from the Motion Picture Academy.
Darren G. Davis, the publisher of Bluewater Productions, called Harryhausen’s death the passing of an icon.