Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema

From Wikipedia
Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema
Ray Harryhausen Titan Of Cinema Book.jpg
AuthorVanessa Harryhausen
CountryUnited Kingdom
Genre Biography, Fantasy film
Publisher National Galleries of Scotland
Publication date
October 26th 2020
Media typePrint (Paperback)
Pages208 (First edition, paperback)
ISBN 1911054341 (First edition, paperback)

Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema is a book by Vanessa Harryhausen. Daughter of stop motion animator Ray Harryhausen, the book was written to mark her father's centenary in 2020, examining his life and films through 100 personally selected objects from his archive. [1]


Vanessa Harryhausen is a trustee of the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation, which cares her father's 50,000 item strong archive. Outside of the Foundation, Vanessa is a member of the Scottish Castles Association, [2] is a keen Western horse rider, and has a strong personal interest in Scottish history and Native American culture. [3] She has an ongoing involvement with the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre, as a direct descendant of the explorer on her mother's side; in 2003, a statue designed by her father was unveiled at the centre. [4]


The book acts as a biography of Ray Harryhausen from the perspective of his only child, who grew up amongst her father's creations and films. Having been present on the set of all of his movies from One Million Years B.C. in 1966 until Clash of the Titans in 1981, Vanessa shares her memories of being raised by such a noted filmmaker.

The publication contains 100 objects which relate to her father's entire life, including his first ever experiments in building models. In an interview for the BBC iPlayer feature "Culture in Quarantine", Vanessa recalls that her father was reluctant to share these early models due to their rudimentary nature. However, she felt it important to show her father's very earliest works to inspire and encourage young filmmakers. [5]

In an interview with Robbie Collin of the Daily Telegraph, Vanessa recalled watching her father create sketches for his films at home, occasionally being asked to select doll's eyeballs for his models in progress. [6] The book also sheds light on Harryhausen's fine art influences, as Vanessa describes the inspiration he took from 19th century artists Gustav Doré, John Martin and Joseph Gandy. [7]

The book contains contributions from many of her father's notable friends, including John Landis, Rick Baker, Phil Tippett, Jim Danforth, Randall William Cook and Harryhausen: The Lost Movies author John Walsh, who is a fellow trustee of the Foundation.


The book was published in October 2020 by National Galleries of Scotland Publishing, [8] released in parallel with the launch of an exhibition of the same name. [9]

Critical reception

Down the Tubes described the book as "an exhaustive and comprehensive tome with plenty of details and photos covering Ray’s entire life and career... highly recommended". [10] Skwigly animation magazine noted that "Vanessa’s personal stories and connections give the reader a welcoming sense that behind the much coveted genius was a devoted husband and loving father as well as a much admired colleague". [11] Sci-Fi Bulletin said that the book acted as 'a lush bestiary of Dynamation's fantastic beasts... and here's your guide book, complete with personal photos and anecdotes that are as animated as the monsters on screen'. [12]

The book was given a five-star review by Starburst Magazine, who stated that "...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". [13]

The book was voted as 'Book of the Year' in the 2021 Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards. [14] It was also shortlisted for the Saltire Society 'First Book of the Year' in Scotland's National Book Awards 2021. [15]


  1. ^ "Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema". nationalgalleries.org.
  2. ^ "Vanessa Harryhausen... I presume". scottishcastlesassociation.com. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  3. ^ "People: Vanessa Harryhausen". rayharryhausen.com. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  4. ^ "David Livingstone Centre". undiscoveredscotland.co.uk. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  5. ^ "Culture in Quarantine Exhibition Tours: 3. Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema – The Exhibition". BBC.co.uk. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  6. ^ "Dad opened the doors to reveal three giant scorpions': growing up with Ray Harryhausen". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  7. ^ "Ray Harryhausen's art raid: where the effects genius found his terrifying monsters". guardian.com. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  8. ^ "Pre-order Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema (paperback)". nationalgalleries.org. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  9. ^ "Art review: Ray Harryhausen - Titan of Cinema, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh". scotsman.co.uk. Retrieved 22 March 2021.
  10. ^ "In Review and in Pictures: Ray Harryhausen – Titan of Cinema Exhibition". downthetubes.net. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  11. ^ "Ray Harryhausen – Titan of Cinema – Book Review". skwigly.co.uk/. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  12. ^ "Review: Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema". scifibulletin.com. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  13. ^ "RAY HARRYHAUSEN – TITAN OF CINEMA Reviews/". starburstmagazine.com. 2020. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  14. ^ "RONDO 19 RESULTS ARE HERE". rondoaward.com. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  15. ^ "Scotland's National Book Awards 2021 Shortlists". saltiresociety.org.uk. Retrieved 22 November 2021.

External links