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Gwangi model and Disney's DINOSAUR (was: Dinosaur TV Week)
Please skip this if you do not wish to read about dinosaurs in the movies. I
that pop culture is not the central focus of this list, and I contribute the
following in the interest of concluding a dangling thread, which I recommend be
continued off list.
Regarding who sculpted Gwangi, the star of THE VALLEY OF GWANGI, a film
stop-motion effects by Ray Harryhausen, I can refer you to two sources.
In _Film Fantasy Scrapbook_, by Ray Harryhausen, (A. S. Barnes & Co., 1972,
1981 editions, ISBN 0-498-02571-3), a cursory but well illustrated memoir of Mr.
Harryhausen's stop-motion artistry, the author has this to say (in the section
"ONE MILLION YEARS B.C."):
"In the past I have modeled most of the creatures we use myself. Although I
construct all of the final animation figures it becomes necessary, in the
of shortening production days, to have other people do the time-consuming
in clay as well as plaster molds. Based on my sketches this work is sometimes
carried out by a studio sculptor; in other situations I work with sculptor
Hayward who has a very artistic as well as academic knowledge of prehistoric
In addition, there is a brief article on Hayward and his association with
Harryhausen in the February 1999 issue of _Cinefantastique_ magazine. Arthur
Hayward, a sculptor, taxidermist, and paleontologist who has worked for the
History Museum of London, is acknowledged for sculpting models (but not
ALL of the models) for THE THREE WORLDS OF GULLIVER, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, FIRST
"IN" THE MOON, JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C., and VALLEY OF
GWANGI. These sculptures were carried out according to Harryhausen's
and directions. The article states: "Hayward never demanded or received
perhaps he was embarrassed about cinema." The article doesn't say precisely
models were sculpted by whom, but there is an implication that Gwangi was a
sculpture. The article describes a couple of ill-conceived magazine articles
appear to have caused Hayward to lose his position with Harryhausen. I will not
detail the particulars here, as I do no wish to cause anyone further harm.
And yes, dinosaur sculptor Tony MacVey (who also worked on SUPERMAN, GREMLINS,
RETURN OF THE JEDI) did sculpt the baboon and the walrus for SINBAD AND THE EYE
THE TIGER. And Lyle Conway (who has worked on such films as DARK CRYSTAL,
SHOP OF HORRORS, RETURN TO OZ, and THE BLOB (1988)) sculpted the Kraken close-up
model for CLASH OF THE TITANS.
So Harryhausen is not quite the one man show that fans think, but it is clear
his independent works that he is a gifted designer and sculptor in his own
who could have done every sculpture himself had he the time. Still, Hayward has
done some fine work, and deserves some recognition for his artistry, too. On
other hand, unless I'm mistaken, with the exception of MIGHTY JOE YOUNG and
OF THE TITANS, every one of Harryhausen's films was animated solo, which,
especially in the case of the skeleton fight from JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, shows
that Ray Harryhausen possesses a unique level of concentration and persistence
has never been equaled. The common belief that he did all of the visual effects
work by himself is not correct, but when you consider the quantity of work
accomplished, this perception isn't far off the mark.
The aforementioned _Cinefantastique_ double-issue is an all stop-motion issue,
articles on Nick Park, Phil Tippett, David Allen, Jim Danforth, Henry Selick,
the Chiodo Brothers, among others, and even features a 2 page article on the
genesis of Disney's DINOSAUR project. It turns out that DINOSAUR began 12 years
ago as a stop-motion Phil Tippett project to be co-directed by Paul Verhoeven.
Although a one sentence outline of the film's premise would apply equally to the
current production in progress, the article states that the film was originally
intended to be "a gritty, true-life adventure where all the story-telling would
carried in action and pantomime. There would be no dialog. The dinosaurs would
not talk or sing, and there would be no sub-titles or narration ... SNIP ... As
result of Paul's involvement, it was very gritty and had some pretty intense
moments." The magazine presents some Verhoeven story boards, and tells the
of how the film changed hands and changed concept to become what the article
some are calling "BAMBI with dinosaurs."
See you at the movies!
Ralph W. Miller III <email@example.com>