LPFF former program director Alan Hofmanis remembers Ray Harryhausen

rayLPBack in 2002 I invited Ray Harryhausen, the legendary special effects artist behind Jason and the Argonauts, Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, and Clash of the Titans, to be a guest at the Lake Placid Film Forum.  Knowing I could get pretty much anyone to host the interview, I chose Guillermo Del Toro. At the time he was best known for Chronos, a thoughtful twist on vampire genre made in Mexico on a shoestring budget.  Since then Guillermo has become a legend in his own right. His latest film, Pacific Rim, opens this summer. If you don’t know about it take a moment right now and watch the trailer. Ray would approve. In fact, you can see his influence.




I’m going to share just one memory of many from that weekend. Once in a while, if you are lucky, you get to be part of something so special that you know that no matter what else is happening in the world, right here and now is the place to be.

The three of us were having lunch at Caribbean Cowboy. Ray suddenly grew very sad. Despondent, even.  He explained that he never received the money he was promised for any of his films. This made retirement quite difficult for him and his wife, but you could see what really hurt was the lack of respect shown by the Film Industry.  Yes, it was great that the Film Forum was recognizing his achievements, and that Guillermo came all the way from Japan to meet his hero, but Ray felt that his years of hard work were largely ignored.  Or worse, misspent and unnecessary.

Guillermo-del-Toro-with-a-001Guillermo turned to him, looked him square in the eyes and said, “You are the wealthiest person I know. Your art has brought a tremendous amount of joy to children and adults all around the world, and often to people who desperately needed that joy.  Your films are going to be shared for generations.  Your dreams and talent have made the world an infinitely more beautiful place, Ray.  You are a very rich, person.  Do not think otherwise.” Ray took this in, smiled, and finished his taco.*


Ray111Fast forward 11 years.

I spent the past 3 months living in a slum outside Kampala, Uganda with a community that produces American-inspired action films. I catch this scene one morning while walking thru the slum. I turned around because I had to know what the children were watching.

It was Ray Harryhausen’s ‘Clash of the Titans.’
The Medusa scene, to be exact.

Guillermo was right.







One comment

  1. Pingback: RIP, RAY HARRYHAUSEN: the special-effects titan who transformed fantasy on film #3dthursday « adafruit industries blog

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