‘Ray Harryhausen’s Fantasy Scrapbook’ a virtual garage sale of FX treasures
With Aardman’s stop-motion animation feature “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” now in theaters, it’s a good time to revisit the groundbreaking works and career of Ray Harryhausen, the godfather of stop-frame and special efforts cinema.
“Ray Harryhausen’s Fantasy Scrapbook: Models, Artwork and Memories of 65 Years of Filmmaking” (Aurum Press, $55), due to hit bookshelves on Tuesday, is a rich compendium of artifacts from one of the most innovative and influential film animators of all time.
Designed as chockablock scrapbook filled with mementoes of Harryhausen’s works (some never-before-seen artifacts recently discovered stored away in the filmmaker’s Los Angeles garage), the tome offers up a visual feast as well as a thorough autobiography of this legendary pioneer of stop-motion animation.
While there are already several thoroughly researched books on Harryhausen’s films and his inventive techniques, the “Scrapbook” reportedly brings to light many new insights, personal recollections and relics from the man whose hands-on special-effects work preceded the cold precision of computer technology.
Fortunately, it turns out that Harryhausen is a first-rate hoarder, and his garage was overflowing with a museum’s worth of cinematic finds – concept art, scripts, maquettes and puppets, on-set photos and so on.
The oversized, 192-page hardcover features letters, production budgets and a diary of Harryhausen’s first meeting with mentor Willis O’Brien; models from scuttled projects, such as dinosaurs from the unfinished “Evolution”; publicity posters and brochures; early film treatments and script extracts; early concept drawings, and storyboards and outtakes from several films. There are also charming marionettes from 1933’s “King Kong,” which an impressionable young Harryhausen made after he saw the film, and watercolors he painted when he was 15.
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