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Obituary: Stan Winston (1946-2008)

Written by Christopher Beaubien • June 17, 2008 • Start the Discussion!


Stan Winston, a giant in old school special effects, has passed away. He is survived by Karen, his wife of 37 years, and his two children. Without his perseverance, imagination and the comradeship he had with those at Stan Winston Studios we wouldn’t have our Terminators, our “Stay Away From Her, You Bitch” Aliens, our Pumpkinheads, our Scissorhands, our Small Soldiers, and our Jurassic Park dinosaurs as we see them today. He won four well-deserved Academy Awards.

Winston on THE TERMINATOR (1984)

Winston on ALIENS (1986)

Winston on TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991)

At a time when practically all visual wizardry can be accomplished with a computer, Winston’s work makes a compelling argument for the you-see-what-you-see handcrafted effects that are taken for granted. For granted because those seemingly breathing creatures on the screen made us focus on the real gem: the story.

German filmmaker Werner Herzog actually hauled a 360-ton boat up a muddy 40-degree slope in the Amazon jungle when filming Fitzcarraldo (1982) because visual effects wouldn’t be able to express such a feat as completely. I think Stan Winston would’ve appreciated that.

Before his death he supervising the special effects for Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins to be released next year. The last completed film Winston conjured with his magic touch was the brilliant Iron Man (2008). With his passing, the world just got less awesome.

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