Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Harry Potter Film Wizardry from the creative team behind the celebrated movies

Everybody loved the Harry Potter books, but how did filmmakers translate the scenes of magic in the books, into silver screen magic? This oversized book takes a look at scenes from the first six books and movies and has some sneak previews of the scenes from the seventh book and movie, covering all aspects of production and filled with all sorts of special items from within the movies themselves, from the letter that Harry received from Howarts to invitations to the Yule Ball, and advertisements from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.

It's filled with hundreds of pictures and explanations from all sorts of set designers, prop makers and others telling how they set the scene, the kind of background they were going for, along with interviews with the directors, a look at the cast and how they have changed, and plenty of other goodies. We see how Aunt Marge got inflated (Actress Pam Ferris, who played her, said humorously that you have to eat a lot of beans and drink a lot of fizzy drinks to lift off like that!), How they created the Illusion of Hogwarts, the layout of Diagon Alley and its various shops.

From there we move on to Platform 9 3/4 and to Hogwarts itself, with an overview of the houses, House Ghosts and teachers, including Hagrid and hut, and some of his pets, like Fluffy and Aragog the Acromantual. Each movie is covered in 8 to 10 articles, each with pictures and plenty of text, including Foldout pages and various movie paper products, like the invitation to the Yule Ball or the Ministry of Magic Identification Papers, being included on the page. Some of these handouts can be quite substantial, and give the book, large as it is, a feeling of weight and heft.

Some of the best pictures in the book capture what may only be seen on the screen for a few moments, like the Hogwarts dining room decorated for the Yule Ball (as you can guess by now, it's one of my favorite scenes) or the tent the Weasleys put up for Fleur and Bill's wedding. There's even a wonderful look at the Black Family tree Tapestry with Sirius's name (along with a few others) burnt out.

This is a wonderful book, filled with plenty of pictures and wonderful things. Reading it is a way to look back on and remember the movies and books past and think on your favorite scenes and characters. I really enjoyed the closeup looks at the various rooms and characters, even the weird-eyed cats that Delores Umbridge puts everywhere in her office, and how her outfits throughout the film changed, from something supposed to make her look like a warm, granny-type character, to the laced-up little fascist dictator she turns out to be.

Each chapter tells the story of one movie and most scenes take up only a page or two, but biographies of characters (Everyone from Snape to Kingsley Shacklebolt) gets some sort of writeup exploring the character and has an interview with the actor who played them chiming in on how it felt to play the part and their insights on the character in question.

Anyone who loves the books, and loves the movies, will find something, and to be honest, lots of things, to enjoy in this book. My only problem was that it made me want to watch all the movies again, so I did, and I lost quite a bit of sleep over that weekend after reading to watch the movies all over again. Excellent, informative book that is a seduction of the eyes and mind. Well worth the price and Highly Recommended.

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