Harryhausen’s Early Years Coming to DVD

Fans of stop-motion animation and classic films such as The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Clash of the Titans will soon have a new title to add to their library of works by a certain legendary special effects animator. Ray Harryhausen: The Early Years Collection will be released worldwide on Feb. 1.

Over the past couple of years, genre buffs have been treated to numerous DVD releases of Harryhausen’s sci-fi and fantasy features, but his rarely seen early works have been hard to find until now. In addition to the series of Mother Goose stories and fairy tales he created in his home studio before getting his start in features, the two-disc Early Years Collection offers a look at a budding animator with his Army training films and various tests and experiments that formed the foundation for his Acadamy-recognized career.

Some footage in this set has never been released before, and all vintage elements have been carefully restored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Disc one includes the shorts Little Miss Muffet, Old Mother Hubbard, The Queen of Hearts, Humpty Dumpty, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel & Gretel, Rapunzel, King Midas and the 2003 Annie Award-winning The Tortoise & the Hare. Tortoise was started back in 1952 and finished 50 years later with the help of stop-motion animators Seamus Walsh and Mark Caballero of Screen Novelties in Hollywood. A behind-the-scenes look at the process of completing the film is included on the disc.

Disc two features an exclusive reunion between Harryhausen and two long-time friends–famed science fiction author Ray Bradbury and Famous Monsters of Filmland publisher Forrest J. Ackerman. There is also video footage of Harryhausen’s Hollywood Walk of Fame induction ceremony, a tour of his exhibit at the world-renowned Filmmuseum Berlin, galleries of rare photos and sketches, and a star-studded tribute to the filmmaker by some of Hollywood’s most respected filmmakers and visual effects artists.

A must-have for any Harryhausen fan or stop-motion aficionado, the multi-region DVD set from distributor Sparkhill runs 233 minutes and will carry a suggested retail price of $29.95.

Harryhausen will be in Hollywood this weekend to present two of his classic films at the Egyptian Theater. Starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, The American Cinematheque will screen new 35mm prints of The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and The Three Worlds of Gulliver, both starring Kerwin Matthews. Gulliver co-star Sherri Alberoni will join Harryhausen for a discussion between films. Harryahusen will also be signing copies of his new book, An Animated Life, at 5 p.m in the lobby. For more information, go to www.americancinematheque.com.