Ray Harryhausen: The Early Years Collection DVD Review

Written by Peter West

DVD released by Sparkhill DVD


DVD Content:



Mother Goose Stories:

Little Miss Muffet
Old Mother Hubbard
The Queen Of Hearts
Humpty Dumpty

Fairy Tales:

Little Red Riding Hood
Hansel & Gretel
King Midas
The Tortoise & The Hare


Early Films:

How To Bridge A Gorge
Commercial Demo

Tests and Experiments:

Cave Bear & Dinosaurs
Color, Split Screen & Rear Projection
Adventures Of Baron Munchausen
House Of Usher
Little Googie
The Frog Prince
David And Goliath
War Of The Worlds
The Elementals

Special Features:

The Making Of The Tortoise & The Hare
The Tortoise & The Hare Audio Commentary
Alternate Ending: How To Bridge A Gorge




Ray Harryhausen: The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
Harryhausen’s Livingstone Statue
The Clifton’s Cafeteria Reunion
In The Credits
An Evening With Ray Harryhausen
Harryhausen’s Bronzes
The Ted Newsom Interview
The Academyarchive Restoration
Filmmuseum Berlin


Birthday Tributes
Stumbling Skeletons
Coffee Break
Harryhausen: The TimeTraveler
An Appreciation
Harryhausen Tribute By: David Allen




A review of Mother Goose stories and Fairy Tales may be the last thing you would expect from me. However I jumped at the chance of reviewing this Ray Harryhausen collection when Sparkhill DVD contacted me. The first film I ever saw at the drive-in was Harryhausen's Jason and the Argonauts way back when. Harryhausen films have been some of the most enjoyable movies I have watched through the years. Back to the DVD...

The first disc contains some of the finest crafted children's stories. Material like this is rarely shown on TV anymore and the modern day generation of kids is missing out because of it. These films are what paved the way for Harryhausen to create the more famous films later in his career. Make sure you show these to the little ones in your life!

The tests and experiments are valuable for those that are interested in the craft or the man himself. I myself being a big fan of the man, really enjoyed the technical aspects as well. The special feature on the making of The Tortoise & The Hare is a fantastic look at what goes on behind the scenes in creating a animated film. Best of all, Ray Harryhausen himself hosts these features!

Disc two is entirely devoted to features and tributes to Harryhausen. With a career as long and significant as Harryhausen's, there is a wealth of information here. This is directed to the Harryhausen devotee mostly, but would be enjoyable if you never heard of Ray! Overall this collection will have different value to those viewing it. Someone like myself will be mesmerized by the quality of the craft, however I had my daughter watch the features with me and she enjoyed them as much as I did. My final conclusion after watching this was that I need to add more Harryhausen films to my DVD collection!


Video and Audio:

Most of the elements used are from their original films sources. The Mother Goose stories appear to be from video. Overall the quality is outstanding considering the age of the short films. The newly created/finished The Tortoise & The Hare is breathtaking in it's presentation. All films and special features are presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

Sparkhill has gone to amazing lengths to bring all of the audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. While not all material can take advantage of multichannel sound, it is still an excellent way to hear the soundtracks!


Special Features:

With the exception of the short films, this entire collection can be considered supplemental material. An outstanding chronology on the life of Hollywood's greatest stop-film animator!



Movie: Fivestars
Video: Fivestars
Audio: Fivestars
Features: Fivestars
Overall: Fivestars



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