Why Ray Harryhausen Kicks Ass on the New Clash of the Titans

At this point, only reviewers have seen the new Clash of the Titans. Maybe it’ll be great, maybe it won’t, but I can tell you one thing – no matter how cool it is, neither this nor any other modern SFX picture will ever hold a candle to the work of Ray Harryhausen.  In many ways, the original Clash is minor Harryhausen; it’s the last film he did, and though it contains the magnificent Medusa sequence, there’s some friction between the mythological tone and 1980s sets, music, and hair styles.  The gods in Clash just don’t look as grand  and godly as the same pantheon did in Jason and the ArgonautsClash is also the only Harryhausen film that contains the work of other SFX artists.

Think about that for a minute.

All the effects in every other Harryhausen film, all 15 or so of them, were done by Ray, himself, working alone.  To grasp the magnitude of that, think about the credit roll any other special effects film you’ve seen recently.  Or, if you’ve seen it already, think about the credit roll in the new Clash.  Remember the row upon row of names rolling across the screen for long minutes – special effects artists of every shape, size, gender, and specialization.  Now think about one of the Harryhausen films, Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, for instance.  There was only one name on that credit roll.

Ray Harryhausen was all those guys.

You could have replaced the entire SFX department of Lucasfilm and Weta Workship with Ray.  Except, if it hadn’t been for Ray, probably none of those folks would even have been there.  Ray inspired generations of animators and SFX artists (and writers, too), just as he had been inspired by Willis O’Brien, the creator of King Kong.

Twenty years from now, no matter how good the new film is (or isn’t), people aren’t going to look at the this Clash and say, “Wow, I really admire that guy in the SFX department – fourth one from the bottom on the digital modeling list!”  How will they even tell one of those artists from another?  Kids today may go into film to make cool SFX, but they won’t be following in the footsteps of a single pioneer – not the way the makers of this film are – not unless they hearken back to Ray.

And that’s one very good reason why Ray Harryhausen kicks ass on today’s SFX artists -including those working on the new Clash of the Titans – and always will.

Thanks for everything, Ray.

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About Steve Sullivan 418 Articles
Stephen D. Sullivan is an award-winning author, artist, and editor. Since 1980, he has worked on a wide variety of properties, including well-known licenses and original work. Some of his best know projects include Dungeons & Dragons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dragonlance, Iron Man, Legend of the Five Rings, Speed Racer, the Tolkien RPG, Disney Afternoons, Star Wars, The Twilight Empire (Robinson's War), Uncanny Radio, Martian Knights, Tournament of Death, and The Blue Kingdoms (with his friend Jean Rabe).