Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 22nd, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: France, 2012
Director: Gilles Penso
Starring: Ray Harryhausen, Randy Cook, Peter Jackson, Nick Park, Phil Tippet, Terry Gilliam, Dennis Muren, John Landis, Guillermo Del Toro, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg
BluRay released: June 28th, 2016
Approximate running time: 97 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: LPCM Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $19.95
“The remarkable career of the movie industry’s most admired and influential special-effects auteur, the legendary Ray Harryhausen, is the subject of Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan.Leaving no doubt as to Harryhausen’s seminal influence on modern-day special effects, the documentary features enlightening and entertaining interviews with the man himself, Randy Cook, Peter Jackson, Nick Park, Phil Tippet, Terry Gilliam, Dennis Muren, John Landis, Guillermo Del Toro, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and many more. These filmmakers pay tribute to the father of Stop Motion animation and films such as ‘The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms’, ‘It Came From Beneath The Sea’, ‘The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad’, ‘Mysterious Island’, ‘Jason And The Argonauts’ and ‘The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad’ – the films that enthralled them as children and inspired them to become filmmakers in their own right.”– Synopsis taken from Arrow Video’s website.
My first exposure to the film’s of Ray Harryhausen was via his last film, Clash of the Titans (1981 version) as a creator of special visual effects. And though in the subsequent years, since I saw Clash of the Titans I had become more familiar with the film’s of Ray Harryhausen. My knowledge of his work as a creator of special visual effects and his work within the realm on cinema was limited to put it mildly.
With that being said, my thirst for more information about Ray Harryhausen has never waned over the years and now with a film like Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan. I am finally able to get a well rounded view about the films that Ray Harryhausen worked on.
Of late, there have been a few first rate documentaries about cinema, most notably Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy and More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead. And those who are familiar with those aforementioned documentaries will be thrilled to learn that Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan has been cut from the same mold.
Content wise, there are comments from family members, collaborators, filmmakers who were inspired by the films of Ray Harryhausen and most importantly comments from the man himself, Ray Harryhausen. There is so much ground covered throughout as the comments are always informative. With each film that he worked on being well represented. Ultimately Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan is an exceptional documentary that does a superb job of putting into perspective Ray Harryhausen’s place as cinema’s most innovative and important special effects artist.
Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. A wide variety of sources were used throughout this documentary and the end result is looks slightly better than Arrow’s UK DVD release from 21013. With the biggest area of upgrade begin image clarity.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM stereo mix in English and removable English SDH have also been included as part of this release. The audio sounds, clear, balanced and robust when it needs too.
Extras for this release includes, a reversible cover art, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 48 seconds), deleted scenes (8 minutes 19 seconds), a segment titled A Message to Ray (2 minutes 16 seconds), a segment from the Myths & Legends exhibit at the London Film Museum titled Treasure Trove (13 minutes 36 seconds, two Q & A’s, the first one at the Paris Cinematheque with the filmmakers behind Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (18 minutes 39 seconds, in French with English subtitles) and the second one at London Gate Cinema with Ray Harryhausen, the filmmakers, Caroline Munro and John Landis (8 minutes 58 seconds), four additional interviews, Edgar Wright (4 minutes 14 seconds), Peter Lord (2 minutes 21 seconds), Rick Baker (4 minutes 56 seconds) and Simon Pegg (3 minutes 36 seconds), a collection of interview outtakes, Collin Author (2 minutes 40 seconds), Dennis Muren (5 minutes 12 seconds), Greg Broadmore (4 minutes 12 seconds), Joe Dante (5 minutes 42 seconds), John Lasseter (4 minutes 56 seconds), Ken Ralston (3 minutes 33 seconds), Martine Beswick & Caroline Munro (2 minutes 5 seconds), Nick Park (6 minutes 52 seconds), Phil Tippett (4 minutes 53 seconds), Randy Cook (3 minutes 50 seconds), Steve Johnson (7 minutes 45 seconds) and Vanessa Harryhausen (3 minutes 25 seconds) and an audio commentary with director Gilles Penso, producer / composer Alexandre Poncet, co-producer Tony Dalton and moderator Timothy Nickelson. The audio commentary is just as fascinating as the main feature with all the participants going into great detail about their various experiences of putting this project together.
Rounding out the extras a Ray Harryhausen trailer reel that includes the following trailers, Jason and the Argonauts (1 minute 30 seconds), It Came from Beneath the Sea (2 minutes 10 seconds), Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers (2 minutes 17 seconds), 20 Million Miles to Earth (2 minutes 6 seconds), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (3 minutes 35 seconds), The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (3 minutes 21 seconds), Mysterious Island (2 minutes 48), The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (2 minutes 40 seconds) and Mighty Joe Young (1 minute 45 seconds).
As good as the main feature included with this release is. There is still a wealth of information which can be gleaned from the abundance of extra content that is also included with this release. Overall Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan gets an exceptional release from Arrow Video.
Note: This film is also being released by Arrow Video USA on DVD.