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Posts Tagged ‘Ray Harryhausen’

Something to Ponder

Posted by Dirck on 24 August, 2018

A friend showed this to me earlier in the week (along with a load of others, via Facebook). It reminds me very much of the sort of thing the NFB was ushering into the world when I was a kid, and that’s exactly the kind of stuff we looked forward to in the school day film viewings which inspires this flavour of entry here.

The idea of showing this sort of thing to the kids was, I think, to instill some sense that art was a thing worthy of pursuit. I call this art. You may not, but if you stick to that line, you can expect the shades of Ray Harryhausen and Willis O’Brien moaning under your bedroom window until they see some sign of repentance.

Today’s pen: Ohto Dude
Today’s ink: Waterman Florida Blue

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And Now For Something Completely Different.

Posted by Dirck on 18 July, 2014

In honour of the Monty Python reunion tour, I’m going to present something that has absolutely nothing whatever to do with them for the Filched Friday Film.  Here, then, is a large lizard and an elderly man.

Two notes– first, although the full sequence doesn’t appear in this bit, I love the attitude of the cop who gets gobbled up at about the 3:45 point as he approaches the problematical beast; I try to emulate him, at least inwardly, whenever faced with something that is probably insurmountable.  Second, did anyone else notice the dip-well on the radio announcer’s desk around 4:30?  I want to say it’s a Sengbusch, but that’s probably not right.

Today’s pen: Pilot Vanishing Point
Today’s ink: Montblanc Royal Blue

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Moving Performance

Posted by Dirck on 8 May, 2013

Last night’s news reports the demise of Ray Harryhausen, and I am once again in the grip of a bifurcated thought, in which at the very same moment are held the sensations of “Oh, dear…,” and “What, only now?”  The latter I can justify by pointing out that his 93rd birthday is about a month and a half away, while the former springs from a regard for his work which I’ve held since I saw It Came from Beneath the Sea at age seven.

I’m a big fan of special effects in films, since the kinds of films I incline most toward tend to lean heavily upon them.  However, as a fellow of a certain age, I am rather more impressed with practical effects than I am with CGI, something I’ve commented as some length previously.  One may say that the practical effect is more likely to give itself away, to show the zipper up its back, and that’s true… and that’s fine with me, because then I can see how much the people behind the effects cared (as opposed to CGI stumbles, which tend more to give away how little care is being used).

Looking through a list of Harryhausen’s works, of which I’ve seen all the features, I find that in no case (even at age seven) did I think, “Gosh, is that real?”  However, with the possible exception of that damned owl in Clash of the Titans, they all got me to say, “Gosh, that’s neat.”  Neat, in the context of fantasy films and a quantity of SF, is frequently far better than utterly convincing realism, and Harryhausen was a font of the very right sort of neatness.  There are a lot of people who will say of Harryhausen’s effects that they are dated, and I counter that they’re exactly as convincing now as they were when brand new.  They speak to the kid in one’s make-up, who will happily consent to a genuine invitation to play make-believe.  That anodized disc is not really a flying saucer, that colander is not a helmet, no cephalopod has only six arms, and no towel tucked down the neck of a shirt can lend the power of flight, but to the kid in make-believe mode it all works.  Harryhausen’s work gives our inner child licence to jump in a submarine made of cardboard boxes and help defend San Francisco.  That’s a gift to the ages, and I hope I’ll never lose the trick of accepting it, even if my cardboard submarine has to be a little more metaphorical than it once was.

The good news is that in this current Nerdocene era the ephemera of his Harryhausen’s life’s work isn’t apt to be sunk in a land-fill.  A quick look at the official Harryhausen website shows there’s a preservation society already up and running to keep the surviving models intact and in the public view, and digital media will hopefully keep the finished product in circulation.

The only thing missing is an element of understanding, which is difficult to put into one’s head beside that colander-wearing kid but which I think is important to comprehending why Harryhausen was amazing.  There was no non-human assistant involved.  All that animation, blending with the human action, was something he was keeping track of in his head.  That’s a good trick with a rhedosaurus, it’s amazing with a hexapus, and it’s almost beyond comprehension with a hydra or a dozen sword-flailing skeletons.  It’s worth the effort of trying to allow both the kid and the detail-considering adult into your head when watching Mysterious Island.  The result is astonishment.

Today’s pen: Pilot Elite
Today’s ink (which does smudge if struck by tears): Jentle blue-black

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