A Special Tribute To Ray Harryhausen.
Includes reference to his visit to Hemel Hempstead.
By Alan French
The following was originally written for ‘Alan’s Blog’ on The Hemel Hempstead Movie Makers’ website As Hemel Hempstead is given reference, I thought it would be of interest to local history.
It is with sadness that I have learned of the death of one of my film making heroes. As someone who has dabbled in animation, I have always been an admirer of Ray Harryhausen. His special effects and stop motion photography, has been a huge influence on me. Both on standard and super eight film, and now with computer.
In fact I was awarded with certificates for two amateur animated films. I cannot remember off-hand the full details of ALCESTIS, but PRIMEVALIA aka MAN AGAINST THE ELEMENTS DID win The Vic White Memorial Sound Trophy one year. THE MIGHT OF HERCULES did not get anywhere, as its films splices fell apart during projection, and therefore had to be withdrawn from it the respective competition.
This animation method can be very painstaking. And I can appreciate, be it professional or amateur, the work and dedication which goes into such productions. No matter how spectacular or modest. But it can be very rewarding, and satisfying, when the appropriate sequence is viewed.
Ray Harryhausen’s productions gave us audiences a fascinating re-action for the films that his stop motion effects were used, and in turn intriguingly enhanced. To watch them was a great experience.
I remember visiting The Museum Of The Moving Image, on London’s South Bank. There, on exhibit were some of the models which had been utilised. Never did I think that when I saw these models on the screen, that I would one day be standing up close to them.
I can also remember on one evening, one of our club meetings clashed with a presentation by Ray Harryhausen, at our Hemel Hempstead OldTown Hall Art Centre. For whatever reason, I believe I had Hobson’s choice, and had to attend our club meeting. Hemel Hemptead Movie Makers’ members were divided. Some attended the meeting, others went to Ray’s event. I gather Ray demonstrated his process, and climaxed the evening with one of his productions. One of our members, Alan Willmot, undertook the role of projectionist for the event.
Ray Harryhausen. I salute you sir. A great influence on myself and other animators. Your films and effects gave pleasure to many. Please Rest In Peace.
Alan French. May 8th 2013.