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Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life Hardcover – 22 Nov 2003

4.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd (22 Nov. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854109405
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854109408
  • Product Dimensions: 65 x 7.6 x 73.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 948,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


It's mostly film buffs who will recognize the primary author's name, and they will rush out to buy this first-rate, heavily illustrated guide to the life and, more importantly, the work of arguably the premier special-effects master in Hollywood history. Harryhausen (b. 1920) is the undisputed master of stop-motion photography, the genius behind such memorable fabrications as the T-rex of"The Valley of Gwangi," the giant ape of (the original)"Mighty Joe Young," the fighting skeletons of"Jason and the Argonauts"and the giant crab of"Mysterious Island." Harryhausen attributes his lifelong devotion to stop-motion to his initial viewing, at age 13, of"King Kong"("I can remember every detail of that day quite clearly," he writes in the lengthy and deeply informative text that accompanies the book's hundreds of photos, b&w and color; ..".I became obsessed with [the film's] magic"). This obsession led young Harryhausen to his first serious attempt at a movable model, of a cave bear, then to a teen friendship with Ray Bradbury and Forrest J. Ackerman of"Famous Monsters of Filmland"fame, some mentoring by"King Kong"effects wizard Willis O'Brien and his first special effects job, with George Pal. The book, co-written with film historian Dalton, goes on to cover each of Harryhausen's major films in tremendous detail, with great attention to the technical side of stop-motion work, making this volume a must for special effects fans, despite the recent computer revolution (which, Harryhausen argues, makes creatures appear "too realistic" and lacking in an essential "dream quality"). Through his work, Harryhausen has brought magic to millions; this terrific book is a fitting capstone to his brilliant career. - "Publishers Weekly" For the past half century Harryhausen has been the foremost practitioner of the craft of stop-motion animation, the cinematic art of meticulously moving models, frame by frame, to create an illusion of motion. Inspired by"King Kong, "still the ultimate example of the technique, at age 13, Harryhausen soon became the protege of Kong's creator, Willis O'Brien. He progressed to bringing dinosaurs and giant, mutated animals to life in several fondly remembered 1950s horror films and hit his stride in a series of 1960s and 1970s period fantasy films that pitted such legendary heroes as Sinbad and Jason against harpies, centaurs, and, most memorably, sword-fighting skeletons. The advent of"Star Wars"and other increasingly technologically sophisticated sf movies rendered Harryhausen's painstaking, "homemade" approach prohibitively expensive. Harryhausen's anecdote-filled account of his career offers loads of technical details for those fascinated by specialized minutiae and hundreds of rare drawings and photos from his personal archives. In the age of CGI and digital animation, Harryhausen may be old school, but his art retains its appeal. - "Gordon Flagg Booklist"" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Ray Harryhausen is one of the most innovative and influential film-makers in the history of the medium. The winner of countless awards, including a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, his work has inspired numerous directors and animators including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Nick Park. Ray was born in Los Angeles but now lives, together with his wife Diana, in the heart of London. Now retired, he continues to take an active interest in dimensional animation and occasionally gives talks on his work. Ray’s collection of memorabilia is held in trust by the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation. His books include Ray Harryhausen Fantasy Scrapbook, The Art of Ray Harryhausen, A Century of Modern Animation and Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life.

Tony Dalton is a writer and film historian who has known Ray Harryhausen for over thirty years. They met whilst Tony was working for the British Film Institute and have been close friends ever since. Tony has worked as a film publicist, television researcher and producer. Today, in addition to writing, he is a consultant to The British Academy of Film & Television Arts (Bafta). He is also curator of the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
From the point of a lifelong fantasy film buff, a stunning book. Profusely illustrated with many previously unpublished photos and drawings.Many of his up until now secret cinematic techniques for bringing his stop motion animated characters to the big screen. The story of a young boy starting out in Los Angeles who's whole life was changed by seeing the 1933 epic film, King Kong at age 13. How he persevered throught the years to become the world's leading fantasy filmaker from the 1940's till his retirement in the early 80's. Lucas and Speilberg both consider Ray a major influence in their careers. This is the book film and fantasy lovers have been waiting for.
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Format: Hardcover
Some of my most vivid childhood memories revolve around the creations of Ray Harryhausen, so it was as a fan of the movies, rather than a scholar of animation, that I bought this book. Firstly, the text: Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton deserve huge credit for writing such vivid recollections. The book is laid out chronologically, and is hefty in detail. However, the text will appeal to a broad readership. Stop-motion techniques and insights into the making of the movies abound, but even the casual film-fan will enjoy the enthusiasm and clarity of the writing. Filled with interesting memories, facts and inspiration, reading this book is rewarding for all. Each and every Harryhausen project is charted - including those that failed to reach the screen. Of course, the bulk of the tome recalls the making of those fabulous movies for which Ray is famed. Secondly, the illustrations: Ray appears to be proud of his work and the amount of material he archived during the various stages of his career is astounding. That body of material has been plundered, with great effect, for this book. We have orginal storyboards, pre-production drawings, reproduction movie posters, location photographs, animation photographs, cast and crew photos - the lot. All beatifully presented and well referenced. I could go on, but you get the picture by now: If you are interested in movies; an animation enthusiast; enjoy a great read about somebody who loves his work; or, like me, are just a big fan of those ground-breaking movies; I urge you - buy this book, you won't regret it. Wonderful in its own right, and a perfect companion piece for the films.
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Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book as it brought back memories of some classic effects films I watched as a child. What I did not expect was that it would provide such a fascinating insight into the painstaking production of some tremendous animation sequences. I was particularly impressed by the concept artwork and storyboards for these action films. This book would make a great teaching aid to anyone interested in the history of special effects or the development of animation from artwork to moving image. Excellent commentary and analysis throughout.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If there was any justice, two men in the history of fantasy and sci-fi TV/cinema would be billionaires-way ahead of anyone else. One is Gerry Anderson, the other is Ray Harryhausen.

This book is a joy from start to finish. Admittedly, there are one or two signs of bad proof reading and captioning in this slight update, but the book brings to life the brilliance of the contribution of Ray Harryhausen to sci fi and fantasy cinema, and for the artwork alone, it's worth the read. Sometimes, it's hard to believe just how much RH's work has influenced Cimena.

I was brought up watching "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms", "Jason and the Argonauts" and so on, and this is like meeting a book of old friends.

To top that, the book mentions the unsung hero of special effects, Willis H O'Brien.

Anyone who enjoys SF and fantasy, or to be honest, just cinema, should read this book. It feels like Ray Harryhausen is being extremely honest with his own strengths and faults.

The illustrations on the book are an absolute wonder, covering so many things we know and many we don't-or at least that I didn't.

Highly recommended for anyone with an imagination, a great book by a great man.

I cannot think of anything missing from this book; I loved it, every page. Please will someone now finish some more of the lost projects ?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A book that you have to keep putting down to rewatch his brilliant movies so far I have had to watch 7 of his movies just to be reminded of the genius that this book is about and I am now searching for dvds that I didnt know he did this is a great book full of insite into his world I wish I could buy him a beer to thank him for so many hours of escapist fun
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Format: Hardcover
When one thinks of the great filmmakers of all time, one needs just list the last names: Hitchcock, Spielberg, Scorcese, Ford, and Wilder, just to name a few. To add to that illustrious list must be added special effects whiz Ray Harryhausen. For many, the master of stop-motion animation is in a class by himself, inspiring a host of successors with his skill and ingenuity.

"An Animated Life" chronicles Harryhausen's early days as a protégé of "King Kong's" Willis O'Brien to his own excursions into science fiction and fantasy. The man responsible for taking viewers to the moon ("First Men in the Moon"), on marvelous treks with the legendary sailor Sinbad ("The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad", "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad", and "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger"), animating a septet of malevolent skeletons ("Jason and the Argonauts") and placing a scantily-clad Raquel Welch in the talons of a pterodactyl reveals many of the fascinating tricks of the trade in this photograph-rich book.

Harryhausen does not skimp on the details of his craft, providing background that is not only insightful but also entertaining. Remaining humble throughout, he pays homage to those that preceded him as well as those who worked hand in hand with him as he created these timeless classics.

"An Animated Life" is a coffee table book that will definitely be an eye-grabber, taking all the fables of yore and true magic of a Hollywood original.
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