Today, to mark the birth of one of the greats of cinema 99 years ago, National Galleries of Scotland announce a collaboration with the late Ray Harryhausen’s family.
In collaboration with the late filmmaker’s daughter Vanessa on behalf of the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation several models which he created have been restored. They will go on display in Edinburgh from 23 May 2020.
Harryhausen was a stop motion pioneer, inspiring the likes of Spielberg and Lucas. His original models were used in films such as Jason and the Argonauts (1963), Sinbad in the 1950s and 70s, the Minaton from Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) and Medusa from Clash of the Titans (1981). He also worked on One Million Years BC and Mighty Joe Young.
These were ground-breaking moments in cinema history and the restored models will feature in the largest exhibition of his work.
Vanessa Harryhausen is currently writing a book to accompany next year’s landmark exhibition, to give her own perspective on her father’s ground-breaking career and collection. It will mark the first time Vanessa has spoken about her father’s work in such detail, and will include a personal biography of her father, from the beginnings (in the 1930s) through to projects he was working on just less than a decade ago.
Vanessa Harryhausen said: “Our plans to celebrate Dad’s centenary at the National Galleries in Edinburgh are so exciting; if he was still around, he would be so enthused by all of our plans for 2020! It’s wonderful that we are able to display so much of Dad’s collection: the space at the Galleries gives us great scope to display as many of his models and artworks as possible, as well as personal items which have never been exhibited before, such as his equipment and tools.”
“We at the Foundation are thrilled by the enthusiasm that the Galleries’ team are showing about displaying Dad’s collection and celebrating his legacy. He established the Foundation in order to encourage future generations to enjoy stop-motion animation, and we hope that next year’s activities in Edinburgh will encourage fans of all ages to be inspired by his creativity”.
Writing specifically for the legendary filmmaker’s 2020 centenary celebrations next year, and sharing the massive impact Harryhausen has had on him, the Film Director John Landis said:“The 8 year old me was no longer sitting in my seat at the Crest Theater in West Los Angeles, I was on the beach of the island of Colossa and as awe-struck and fearful as Sinbad and his crew when the first Cyclops made his appearance. I was spellbound by Sinbad’s adventures and marveled at the Cyclops, the Two Headed Roc, the fire breathing Dragon and the Skeleton brought to life by the evil magician Sokurah. Only later did I learn that these extraordinary beasts were really brought to life by the magician Ray Harryhausen.
“The 7th Voyage of Sinbad was a truly life-changing experience for me. Thrilled by the movie I went home and asked my mother, “Who does that? Who makes the movie?” She replied, “Well a lot of people honey, but I guess the right answer is the Director.’ And that was that, I would be a Director when I grew up. All of my energy went into that goal and I read everything about film I could get my hands on.”
Spielberg has hailed Harryhausen as, ‘the Dean of special effects’, citing how his own early exposure to, “all the leviathans of the Saturday matinee creature features inspired me, when I grew up, to make Jurassic Park…He inspired generations”. Lucas has said, “without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars“, whilst Jackson called The Lord of the Rings his, “’Ray Harryhausen movie’…Without that life-long love of his wondrous images and storytelling, it would never have been made – not by me at least”.
Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema is presented n collaboration with The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation (Charity No. SC001419) to celebrate what would have been his centenary 100th birthday year. As part of a series of events and initiatives under the banner #Harryhausen100, the exhibition will be accompanied by screenings, workshops, talks and more, bringing his creations to life once again and celebrating the legacy of the filmmaker who shaped cinema as we know it today.
Simon Groom, Director of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Galleries of Scotland, said: “It’s an amazing experience to watch being brought back to life some of the most famous mythical creatures from the history of cinema. We are thrilled to be working with Vanessa and The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation on putting together the largest and most spectacular exhibition to date celebrating the life and work of Ray Harryhausen, titan of cinema.”