Scenes I Love: Jason and The Argonauts (R.I.P. Ray Harryhausen)


jasonandtheargonauts-skeleton-fight

Earlier today came news that one of the legends of cinema passed away at the age of 93. Ray Harryhausen has been such an influential figure to many of the filmmakers, authors and artists working today. His stop-motion work and films were the fuel that fired up the imaginations of uncounted kids. I am one of those kids and even decades since I first saw my first Harryhausen film I still consider some of his works all-time favorites. His fantastical  work will continue to fire up the imaginations of future children to come and maybe someone from those will grow up to be the next great fantasy filmmaker, author and artist.

There are so many scenes created by Harryhausen that it would be difficult to choose one for the latest “Scenes I Love”, but I will go with the scene I love best from the very first Harryhausen film I ever saw. I speak of the now classic “Skeleton Fight” sequence which provides the climactic scene for Jason and The Argonauts.

R.I.P. Ray Harryhausen.

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7 responses to “Scenes I Love: Jason and The Argonauts (R.I.P. Ray Harryhausen)

  1. Awesome.

    What I loved as a kid, and still love, about the images he created was their surreal quality. His creatures looked supernatural and strange, but very much alive. Part of that effect undoubtedly came from the stop-motion process that he so painstakingly employed to make the action happen, as well as the just plain cool-looking models he constructed. CGI beings do not have that effect, and to me, are not as interesting, and more importantly, not as much fun.

    Something is gained, but something is lost with advancements in technology. This man truly was an artist, and his works will always have a power and a specialness that those of machines will never match.

    • Agreed, though when people who have a love for effects work are given time some CGI turn out just as well.

      This skeleton fight scene is not just about the stop-motion married with live-action. If you watch it closely you can see little nuances and detail to Harryhausen’s work. From the skeletons peeking around the corner of the broken wall to see if it’s opponent was going to backtrack right up to chopping at the legs of a leaping opponent.

      • Yes, exactly. He was so exacting and thorough. Both the behavior of his creatures and the detail of their body movements contibuted to that “alive” result.

      • Ah, I have yet to see that. But it’s been on my list (I actually have one). I will check it out sooner, inspired by this discussion.

        Just for clarification, I think part of what I was referring to as that surreal quality is the result of human limitation. The slightly erratic movements Harryhausen’s creatures sometimes had created a jarring effect. It made the antagonistic beings even more menacing.

        As computer precision supplants hand craftmanship (and hand-indiced movement, in this case), the effect may indeed be smoother and more natural, but not so supernatural, like those of the beings Ray gave us. I know CGI an and will be excellent, but likely not as unique and memorable.

  2. That and the awakening of Talos in Jason and the Argonauts are two of my favorites in that film. Medusa in Clash of the Titans was also great. :)

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