Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers

It's charming to watch a director with his own fanbase become a fan himself, sitting down with someone he admires and conducting an informal interview. Thanks to the blog AustinTranslation, we've found a three-part interview on YouTube in which director Tim Burton chats with special-effects master Ray Harryhausen about the ways in which Harryhausen designed creatures and spacecraft of all sorts for classic science-fiction and fantasy movies like Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, Mighty Joe Young and Jason and the Argonauts. You can check out the three clips after the jump. After you've watched the clips, read the blog entry on AustinTranslation, since it includes artwork from Gustav Dore, a big influence on Harryhausen.

The three interviews total about 25 minutes, and the talk ranges from flying saucer design to the reasons why audiences sympathize with the creatures in monster movies, to the odd ways Harryhausen has collected sound effects. Burton is very passionate about many of these topics, especially stop-motion animation, but discusses them in an intelligent, non-fanboy-ish way. Occasionally, inserts pop up in a corner of the screen with clips from Harryhausen effects, so when they're talking about tentacles you can actually see what they mean.

I was interested to hear Harryhausen praising the current methods of colorizing films, which he says have recently made vast improvements. He's delighted that several of his black-and-white films are about to undergo colorization, pointing out that the films would have been shot in color if only the budgets had been large enough. I've always been anti-colorization but he's persuading me to perhaps give it another chance.