Today marks what would have been the 96th birthday of master visual effects creator and visionary, Ray Harryhausen. But did you know, among his great legacy, he also inspired an iconic scene in 1999’s “The Mummy”?
If you love the Universal Monsters movies, the classics, you probably also enjoyed the fun adventure films of the 1950’s. One of the greatest innovators, artists, and visionaries that worked in the film business was a man every film aficionado should know – Ray Harryhausen! Giving us iconic stop-motion animation through models, we have memorable films such as The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, and the original Clash of the Titans. Interestingly, the skeleton fight scene from Jason and the Argonauts was actually remade nearly shot for shot by director Stephen Sommers in the 99′ version of The Mummy. Did you know that? How many of you caught that the first time you saw the film?
Alexandra DuPont of The DVD Journal described The Mummy as “it’s what would happen if you crossed Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with a zombie horror film by way of a Ray Harryhausen fighting-skeleton epic.” It would only make sense to take a look at Ray Harryhausen and as to why his name has been associated with the 1999 remake of the 1932 classic so often.
Ray Harryhausen created a technique called “Dynamation” in which he would split the background and foreground of live action footage, already shot, into two separate images. Harryhausen would then animate models so he could later integrate into the live-action footage with the models he created. For a more in-depth look at this process, there’s a very well written article on “Dynamtion” over at Silver Scenes. It’s well worth giving a read.
Back in February, I described The Mummy as a “more Saturday morning matinee … inspired by Raiders of the Lost Ark and the films of Ray Harryhausen.” If you remember, there’s a fight scene between Rick O’ Connell (Brendan Fraser) and a group of mummies, at the end of the film, when he’s trying to save Evelyn (Rachel Weisz). The action scene, inspired directly by Jason and the Argonauts, was lovingly re-created and is one of the more modern movies to present such a wonderful homage to Mr. Ray Harryhausen.
Let’s take a look at both scenes!
Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
The Mummy (1999)
The Rick O’ Connell fight scene in The Mummy remains as one of my favorites to this day and it only stands testament to the legendary work Ray Harryhausen did. He left filmmakers a true legacy to be inspired by and work to continually (directly and indirectly) delight audiences to this day.
Mr. Ray Harryhausen was born on June 29, 1920 and passed away on May 7, 2013. May his life’s work continually be enjoyed.
(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)