The King of Clay: Willis H. O’Brien’s Stop-Motion Reality

By  · Published on October 2nd, 2017

King Kong had nothing on him. Because he made it.

You may know the name Ray Harryhausen as someone who was a stop-motion pioneer, but the first project Harryhausen ever worked on was as Willis H. O’Brien‘s assistant animator. O’Brien created dinosaur and ape effects for films like King Kong and Mighty Joe Young, but one of his most lasting contributions was the film The Ghost of Slumber Mountain.

This was the first film to have both stop-motion and real-life footage exist in the same cinematic universe. We were to believe that these animated beings could threaten, interact with, and possibly eat the human actors.

The historical implications of this are enormous when considering modern cinema’s deluge of CGI interactions. Studying and contextualizing this film and O’Brien’s work is a video essay by One Hundred Years of Cinema.

Related Topics: ,

Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).