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Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan 
Written by: on April 8th, 2013


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

DVD released: March 11th, 2013
Approximate running time: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: PG (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £17.99


“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.

The DVD:

Arrow Video presents Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. As far as documentaries go things look very good. This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital stereo mix in English. The audio sounds clear and balanced throughout.

Extras on disc one include a trailer for Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan and a 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.

Extras on disc two include a segment from the ‘Myths & Legends’ exhibit at the London Film Museum titled ‘Treasure Trove’ (13 minutes 4 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a segment titled ‘A Message to Ray’ (2 minutes 12 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), four additional interviews, Edgar Wright (4 minutes 14 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), Peter Lord (2 minutes 21 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), Rick Baker (4 minutes 56 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and Simon Pegg (3 minutes 36 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a collection of interview outtakes, Collin Author (2 minutes 34 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), Dennis Muren (5 minutes – anamorphic widescreen), Greg Broadmore (4 minutes 2 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), Joe Dante (5 minutes 42 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), John Lasseter (4 minutes 45 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), Ken Ralston (3 minutes 25 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), Martine Beswick & Caroline Munro (2 minutes 1 second – anamorphic widescreen), Nick Park (6 minutes 36 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), Phil Tippett (4 minutes 42 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), Randy Cook (3 minutes 42 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), Steve Johnson (7 minutes 27 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and Vanessa Harryhausen (3 minutes 18 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), deleted scenes (8 minutes – anamorphic widescreen), a segment titled ‘On The Set of Sinbad’ (2 minutes 52 seconds – 4:3 full frame) and two Q & A’s, the first one at the Paris Cinematheque with the filmmakers behind Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (17 minutes 54 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, 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 37 seconds – anamorphic widescreen).

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 on BluRay.

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