From The New Yorker, where Adam Gopnik explores our love for the imperfect work of Ray Harryhausen (RIP):

“Why do we? Well, here we enter into territory of speculation, some of it misty, about the nature of illusion that the postmodern mind seems to glom onto—a territory that I, at least, have written about a couple of times before. Some magicians, for instance, refer to the “perfect-trick” theory, in order to explain why a trick perfectly performed and seamlessly achieved can be less affecting—indeed, not affecting at all—compared to one whose deliberately ragged edges in performance open doors to speculation and uncertainty. They supply the edge of doubt that makes us guess. Delight in illusion honors the verbs of accomplishment, not the objects of achievement. Provoked speculation—“How’d he do that?”—gives more pleasure than glutted appetite: “Oh. Now they did that.”

We love Harryhausen, as we do Méliès, in part because his tricks are so plainly imperfect: even if we know just how they’re done, we relish the ingenuity, the labor that went into doing it. Our delight registers our implicit knowledge of difficulty. Even if we can be shown a forty-foot gorilla that sways and moves as giant gorillas really might, we enjoy one that shakes and trembles from frame to frame—because what we really value, and commune with, is not the thing made but the mind and hand of the hidden maker. We admire the dedication of the magician, or special-effects man, as much as his ability to fool us.”

Bonus link of Harryhausen’s monster list. Watching this makes me want to go on a B-movie bender: