Monday, April 19, 2010
Movies: Just wild about Harry(hausen).
The Telegraph has a charming profile of stop-motion animation legend Ray Harryhausen.
From the article:
Ray Harryhausen, the greatest stop-motion animator in the world, met the writer Ray Bradbury when they were both at high school in Fifties Los Angeles. Every Thursday they would see each other at Clifton's Cafeteria, a kitchily exotic spot where the weekly meeting of the Science Fiction League took place. The boys would dream about rockets reaching the Moon or Mars, or of men living on space platforms, leapfrogging their way across the galaxy.
The two Rays were also crazy about the prehistoric past. One day they made a pact that Bradbury remembered in a speech decades later. "We said: 'We're going to grow old but never grow up'," Bradbury said. ''We’re going to stay 18 years old and we’re going to love dinosaurs forever.'"
Sadly, Harryhausen thinks modern effects can get the hell off of his lawn:
Harryhausen's films were storyboarded to a neurotic degree. "We usually took six months to lay our pictures out, so there would be a minimum of waste," he says. "I made 400 little sketches which were published in the script." Understandably, he's dismissive of the extravagance of modern directors. "They don’t seem to care today," he says. "They spend $200 million on pictures, which is just pathetic! It's a waste."
So has he been to see Avatar, the most expensive film ever made? "No, I haven't. Films meant everything to me at a certain age, but as you get older you lose some of that drive." What about something that touches him more personally – the 3D remake of Clash of the Titans? "I haven't been involved with it at all. I was surprised when I heard about it, because I thought we'd made the definitive version!"
Harryhausen made some experiments in 3D himself in the early Fifites, but swiftly realised that it would make the already tortuous process of animating figures completely unbearable. Today, he doesn't find the idea of 3D particularly exciting. "It's another means of entertaining. If somebody can work a yo-yo and make people interested in it – that’s entertainment!"
Worth the quick read.