In Pictures: Tentacular spectaculars from Ray Harryhausen for Myths and Legends in London

By Laura Burgess | 22 July 2010
A photo of a group of people posing with a gold statue of a man

(Above) (Left to right): Ken Ralston, RIck Baker, Karl meyer, Jonathan Sands, Phikl Tippett, Tony Dalton, Denis Muren at the launch of Myths and Legends

Way before CGI was used in films such as Jurassic Park, The Matrix and Toy Story, the original form of special effect was stop-motion animation. Also known as Dynamation, the first films to use this were The Lost World in 1925 and King Kong in 1933, deploying the technique under the direction of visionary creator Willis O'Brien.

A photo of a man holding another man's chin inside an exhibition

John Landis and Ray Harryhausen. Image © Mark Mawston

Ray Harryhausen was taken under the wing of Willis for his next feature film, 1949’s Mighty Joe Young, which features a giant ape taken from Africa to Hollywood.

A photo of a man cutting a ribbon to open an exhibition

Ray Harryhausen takes a moment to cut the ribbon. Image © Mark Mawston

More than 60 years on, Harryhausen is seen as the Godfather of special effects, crafting mythical creatures and dinosaurs in six landmark fantasy films including Jason and the Argonauts (1963), One Million Years BC (1966), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) and his last feature, Clash of the Titans (1981).

A photo of a man holding a model medusa creature

A Medusa installation from the show. Image © Ian Nicholson

To celebrate turning 90 last month, and to commemorate his cinematic artwork, Ray and The London Film Museum have opened an exhibition showcasing his art.

A close-up photo of the face of a beastly Medusa creature

A less satisfied onlooker from the exhibition. Image © Mark Mawston

Myths and Legends features all of the original animated characters, illuminating his inspirations and demonstrating how he has influenced fantasy film directors such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson.

A photo of a birthday cake on a table

Harryhausen's 90th birthday cake. Image © Mark Mawston

His work includes a six-tentacled octopus called Sixtopus, flying saucers and aliens, Cyclops, a dragon, a towering colossus called Talos, a seven-headed Hydra, the Medusa, a giant crab and seven warrior skeletons.

Runs at the museum until June 11 2011, then moves permanently to the National Media Museum, Bradford.

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