Jason vs. the Hydra for Silver Screen Society’s July movie “Jason and the Argonauts”. Everybody always talks about the skeleton monsters from this movie but I think that the hydra with all of the heads moving independently is just as impressive.
Ray Harryhausen (6/29/20- 5/7/13) , a true legend of special effects in cinema. He will be missed.
Films featured in this set are:
Mighty Joe Young (1949), Beast of 20,000 Fathoms (1953), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), One Million Years B.C. (1967), Valley of Gwangi (1969), The Golden Voyage of SInbad (1974), Clash of the Titans (1981)
Jason and the Golden Fleece - Greek Bronze Box Mirror, C. Second Half of the 4th Century BC
This represents one of the great heroes of Greek mythology, Jason, famous for his role as the leader of the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece: according to the epic poem, in order to regain the throne of his father (Aeson, dispossessed by his half-brother Pelias), Jason left for Colchis (a region located on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, centered on present-day western Georgia) with his companions; there, the king Aites (the Fleece was given to him by Phrixus) promised to give him the Fleece if he could perform three certain tasks. Jason succeeded in the challenges with the help of Medea (the daughter of Aites and Jason’s future wife), took the Fleece and went back to Thessaly, where he reacquired his father’s kingdom after killing his uncle, once again thanks to a trick by Medea.
This relief, which illustrates an episode of this long legendary voyage, represents Jason standing as a young athlete, quickly moving to the left. Except for a cloak that flutters in the wind behind him, he is entirely nude. He is armed with a sword, hanging from his shoulder, and with a spear; as defensive weapons, he wears a helmet of the Attic type and a large, richly incised round shield. Between his feet lies the ram’s fleece, which, according to the myth, was guarded by a serpent/dragon, and that Jason is about to steal: the incised tree behind the arm of Jason would have represented the shrub in which the monster was hidden.
In 2013, the world lost one of the most influential visual effects creators of all time. Ray Harryhausen perfected a method of stop motion known as “Dynamation”, which he used in various landmark films, such as Mighty Joe Young (1949), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), and Jason and the Argonauts (1963), as seen above.
His work has inspired many animators over the years, and provided the impetus for stop motion animation to be used to create entire feature-length films, such as Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), right up to the works of Laika, LLC., who produced 2009’s Coraline, as well as the upcoming Box Trolls (2014).
His influence has also spurred on numerous homages in films from nearly every genre, including horror. In 1987, Freddy Krueger returned to theaters and nightmares the world over in ANightmare on Elm Street3:Dream Warriors. In a clear nod to the skeletal warriors from Jason and the Argonauts, Freddy’s spirit briefly inhabits his mortal remains in an effort to keep them from being properly buried, and thus put to rest. In 1992, director Sam Raimi would make an even more obvious reference to the same warriors in his horror/fantasy epic, Army of Darkness.
“I think all of us who are practioners in the arts of science fiction and fantasy movies now all feel that we’re standing on the shoulders of a giant. If not for Ray’s contribution to the collective dreamscape, we wouldn’t be who we are.” - James Cameron
One of the major influences on Army of Darkness was Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion animated skeletons. This was both prominent in the stop motion animation of the film and the puppets. At the request of director Sam Raimi, KNB EFX used the “Ray Harryhausen brow" on the puppets which clearly shows the inspired look from Harryhausen’s skeletons.
Rest in peace Ray Harryhausen. You were a true legend, and you will be missed.