There are a lot of reasons to get a movie art book, not least of which is to learn about the process of filmmaking. It’s a way to pull back the curtain and see what it takes to build a believable world in cinema. Or, it’s a way to convince your significant other to get off their butt and see the film with you! All you gotta do is plop the book in front of them and, if it’s good enough, they’ll fall in love with the film before seeing a single frame. Boom, instant movie chaperone and it worked for me! Now you know it’s a great way to persuade someone to see a flick, but how does the book hold up?
Elysium: The Art of the Film (Titan Books)
When it comes to art books, or even behind the scene photos, I’m quite sure you’ll get the most content from a science fiction film or from a meticulous director. I think you’re getting both here. The Stanley Kubrick Archives come to mind when reading this book, partly because there’s so much detail that wasn’t on screen, but also because the notes, contribution from actors and design folks are so complete it’s like you’re on set. Kubrick was known to be meticulous with details and it’s obvious this film went through a similar process.
The book opens with a forward by the director, Neill Blomkamp, and he perfectly captures what he loves about film art books. These books are a way to uncover what it took to make the film. This goes above and beyond in that regard, partly because they had so much to fill this book with as it requires so much concept art to make a near future look real in the final form. A single mech might require 35 iterations in order to get just right. Even the tattoos on Matt Damon’s chest required droves and droves of different looks just to get right…and you get to see them all, used or not, right here in this book.
Bad guy lineup.
In a lot of ways books like this are a way to see an alternate version of the film too. While this book is organized more or less from the film’s beginning to its end, along the way you can see different ways things were going to look, the actor’s interpretations of their characters and even things that just couldn’t make it into the film because they would cost way too much. Essentially you’re getting to the root of the film was intended to be with a book like this. You can see the intended vision, from actor and art, which can help you understand the film even more fully. God knows not everything in a director’s vision will make it to screen, or even an actor’s intention of how their character will be seen, so this is an incredible way to improve on the movie experience.
So many possibilities the film could have taken.
Considering how much art is in this book I was floored by how many notes and commentary there was. Even a simple three sentence note helps improve on the experience of an art book and there’s a ton here. Some art books lean on the art itself to tell the story, but I for one love it when they tell you the why, or the intended feeling they were going for. It also allows you to see something that might only be on screen for seconds in great detail. Having read quite a few film art books this book has more commentary than most. If you’re someone who loves the details an art book is something you’ll greatly appreciate.
A lot of the critics seem to suggest the film is too much action and not enough message. That’s something this book delivers quite nicely. The meaning of the film is very clear and the conclusion to the book — and thus the film — is supposed to be obtuse. That said, reading this book the message is clear, and that obtuseness, in my opinion, enhances the feeling and urgency of this film’s message. But if you ever wanted to know for certain what their intentions were this book is a good place to figure it out.
Let’s say you’re not even interested in seeing this film, even still, this book is going to be something you’ll want to at least take a peek at. That’s because there’s a vivid world to see here, fan of films or not. And if you’re a fan of science fiction, well…you have no excuse not to check this book out! The book breaks up details in the Elysium world by robots, weapons, vehicles, locations, tattoos, and specific scenes in the movie. I’m certain this covers everything you’d ever want to see in the film.
Elysium in all its curvy glory.
- Peek behind the curtain to see the infinite possibilities the film could have taken
- Revealing quotes from cast and crew
- Not enough!
The only negatives include that this will ruin the film for you as it details major moments and even the ending, and…there just isn’t enough! That said, if you ever needed something to convince anyone to see this with you, this book is it.
Of course, there’s probably yet still more stuff they couldn’t fit into this book. Blomkamp points out a science fiction world, “…can only be accomplished with a shitload of conceptual design and visual ideas.” There’s so much good stuff in this book you’ll be wishing you got even more of that shitload. I assure you.
The only bad thing is, well…I wish there was more. There’s a ton, but it could have easily been double the page count and been even better for it.
Sickest tattoo ever!
Pick up your copy of Elysium: The Art of the Film from Amazon.