I can’t think of another artist in the world of film who has exerted such an enormous influence since the days of Griffith and Chaplin. Harryhausen lit a fire in the minds of boys raised on comic books and television, just as King Kong inspired him in the 1930s. Those “monster kids” went on to dominate the world of popular culture, not to mention the box-office. What’s more, they’ve acknowledged the man who made it all possible in their work: there are specific tributes to The Master in a variety of movies, from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, in which George Lucas replicated a memorable moment in Mysterious Island, to Monsters Inc., in which a fancy sushi restaurant is named Harryhausen’s.
If you watch Ray’s earliest efforts from the 1930s, made in his parents’ garage, the spark is already present—as well as the enormous skill that he refined, year by year. I believe the explanation is simple: he was, in his own way, a genius.
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