Publisher: Harper Design
Release Date: October 24, 2017
There are two kinds of coffee table books. The first category includes books that are quick cash-in products and have been built around a generous helping of still photography that includes the occasional quote or caption spread throughout the pages. If these books offer text, it is usually generalized fluff that offers very little in the way of actual information. Needless to say, these books are quite disappointing to the discerning reader.
The second category is quite different. These books offer much more to the discerning reader. The images mix organically with textual information in a way that creates a relationship between these two ingredients, and the result is incredibly informative and extremely entertaining. It is our pleasure to assure readers that Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History belongs to this second category.
It is described by Harper design as a “fully authorized behind-the-scenes book exploring the creation, production, and legacy of this iconic film” and we feel that the book more than lives up to this description. Created in conjunction with Sony Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, it details the complete creative journey behind the making of the film and examines its cultural impact. The book features a wealth of rare and never-before-seen images from the archives—including on-set photography, concept art, storyboards, and even script pages in an effort to create a visual narrative of the film’s journey to the big screen. Interviews with some of the key contributors were utilized in an effort to create a first-hand commentary about the making of this film classic.
Needless to say, we can wholeheartedly recommend this excellent book to anyone who has an affection for the film or Steven Spielberg.
Publisher: Wallflower Press
Release Date: January 2017
Mick Broderick offers Kubrick scholars a rare glimpse into the creation of what may very well be the director’s most important film: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The text makes use of Kubrick’s own production papers from the Stanley Kubrick Archives in order to dissect the film’s creative evolution as well as its legitimacy in terms of how accurate the film’s depiction of nuclear warfare policies actually were. Several popular myths about the film’s production are proven false even as others are confirmed. Broderick doesn’t try to document the film’s creation and the reader shouldn’t expect a comprehensive examination of the film’s creation. Instead, we are given a scholarly examination of how the film was shaped by the cold war environment, the scientists and world leaders who created that environment, and Kubrick’s creative collaborators. It earns an easy recommendation for fans of the director and for those who admire the film itself.
Review by: Devon Powell
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Release Date: October 1, 2013
The question before us is as follows:
Is The Making of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ a good book or a bad book?
Aljean Harmetz’s seminal text about the production of MGM’s 1939 classic trumps all of the Oz texts that followed it, and this 75th Anniversary edition of the book gives fans of the film a good opportunity to visit this text if they haven’t already indulged. This compressive history of the production is superior even to the various documentaries on the subject (it covers more territory).
These pages go beyond the film to discuss the climate and methods of studio filmmaking (particularly at MGM). It goes a long way to dispel a lot of untrue myths that surrounded the production, and should exponentially enhance one’s enjoyment of the film. Other books may provide a larger array of stills and production images, but no amount of eye candy can replace the research that went into this book. It receives a most enthusiastic recommendation.
Review by: Devon Powell
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Gunnar Hansen has written an incredibly lucid text on the making of one of cinema’s most beloved (and hated) horror films. Chainsaw Confidential: How We Made the World’s Most Notorious Horror Movie chronicles the story of how the original 1974 version of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ was created and the impact that it had on future horror films. Better yet, fans will learn the story from one of the film’s most instrumental actors. Yes, Gunnar Hansen is the man that portrayed “Leatherface.” However, we are not limited to his personal perspective. Hansen has seen fit to conduct interviews with other members of the cast and crew, and he has put these interviews to excellent use.
It must be said that the book is an enjoyable and interesting reading experience. Horror fans that have not yet read the book should remedy this immediately.
Review by: Devon Powell