Ray Harryhausen, creator of animated creatures for numerous fantasy films, is the subject of a new exhibition opening at the London Film Museum, possibly one of London's most interesting and educative exhibition centres.

The exhibition, entitled Ray Harryhausen - Myths and Legends, explores the artist's life and work from his early experiments as a child to his last film Clash of the Titans (1981). The display, which has been put together by the London Film Museum and the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, will be opened by Harryhausen on his 90th birthday, 29th June 2010.

Ray Harryhausen – Myths and Legends explores the work of the early film pioneers who had a profound effect on Harryhausen. The exhibition features film extracts, commentaries , posters, photographs and models, to explain the processes, such as storyboarding, and stop-motion animation.

Ray Harryhausen – About the Artist

Ray Harryhausen was born in Los Angeles in 1920. As a young boy Harryhausen was fascinated by films, his favourite activities being cinema-going, puppet shows, and outings to local parks and the ocean. At the age of five he saw The Lost World (1925). The apparently 'living' dinosaurs became his obsession and he started to experiment with puppets and models, in order to discover how it was done.

The film which really decided his future career was King Kong (1933), which he saw when he was 13 years old. In 1938 he made plans for a film, Evolution of the World. He even made several models including a tyrannosaurus rex, a triceratops, a brontosaurus and a pterodactyl, but the project was far too ambitious and was never finished.

However, he did go on to breath 'life' into all sorts of mythical creatures, both animal and human forms, such as Talos from Jason and the Argonauts (1963). His creatures appeared in dozens of films including 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1959), One Million Years BC (1966), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) Clash of the Titans (1981) and many more.

Later film makers who have been influenced by Harryhausen's work include Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Nick Park and George Lucas.

Although Harryhausen is the recipient of numerous film industry awards he has never had a film nominated for an Oscar. He did, however, receive a special lifetime achievement award, the Gordon Sawyer Award in 1992, and he does have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Ray Harryhausen – Myths and Legends

Harryhausen's work is explored in the new exhibition at the London Film Museum. The show is split into three rooms.

In the first section the work of those early pioneers, including Eadweard Muybridge, GMedusa Head, Clash of the Titans, 1981eorge Méliès, James Stuart Blackton and, of course, the creator of The Lost World and King Kong, Willis O'Brien, is explored. The exhibition also looks at various processes essential to film making, such as storyboarding and stop-motion animation techniques. The room is dominated by a display of creatures from O'Brien's King Kong.
In the second part of the exhibition visitors can see extracts from his last film, Clash of the Titans (1981), together with the famous Medusa head.

Arranged in date order, the third part of the exhibition features models and film extracts from most of Harryhausen's films including The Voyage of Sinbad (1958), The Three Worlds of Gulliver (1959), Mysterious Island (1961), Clash of the Titans (1981) and many others.

Ray Harryhausen – Myths and Legends, opens on 29th June 2010 and will run until June 2011. The London Film Museum is located at County Hall, Riverside Building, London SE1, next door to the London Eye. Telephone or visit their website, londonfilmmuseum.com, for further information.


The London Film Museum

Ray Harryhausen's Official Website


The Medusa Head - The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation/London Film Museum