Over the years there have been plenty of books celebrating the brilliance of effects wizard Ray Harryhausen and when the great man passed away in 2013, even more tomes would hit the shelves. This latest addition is released in conjunction with the exhibition being held in Edinburgh to celebrate the animation genius’ centenary. While the launch of the exhibition was delayed by a global pandemic, the creations included wherein can never be stopped. Titan of Cinema proves that, and for the first time, the glorious images are accompanied by the words of Ray’s daughter, Vanessa.
Vanessa paints a wonderful image of what it was like to grow up surrounded by the creations of her father in the introduction. It’s a childhood we could only dream of, but she points out that her parents -wisely - always instilled a work ethic from a young age. There are plenty of personal photos throughout the book that gives it a much more personal feel than previous releases.
The main bulk of Titan of Cinema is given over to the 100 items Vanessa has chosen from her father’s vaults. Many of these are naturally creatures that Ray brought lovingly to live, but there are also quirky pieces of paraphernalia such as the oven Ray used to set the latex models in their moulds, all featuring notes from Vanessa as well as commentary from a range of people who were Ray’s friends and colleagues, such as John Landis and Rick Baker.
For fans of Ray’s work, this is an indispensable book. For those new to stop-motion animation, or those wanting to have more of an insight into what made Ray and his creations so special, it’s perfect. There’s even a glossary of film terms at the back if you’re really a novice. It’s that inclusive. For those who have loved Ray’s work most of our lives, each page is a blast of nostalgia and brings us closer to learning more about an undeniable genius.