Mania Grade: A-
1 Comment | Add
Rate & Share:
- Author: Weta
- Publisher: Harper Collins
- Format: Hardcover, 208 pages
Book Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles: Art & Design
Bringing the Film to Life
By Tim Janson
January 07, 2014
Bringing the Film to Life
© Harper Collins
I tend to think that a lot of the books covering the art and design of film are unnecessary and for films that don’t truly warrant a book produced for them. Not so however when it comes to the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit films which are so rich and vast in their scope of design and the incredible amount of detail that goes into their productions. As with the books covering the previous films, this book covers various aspects of the film’s design.
The first chapter covers the home of the shape-changing Beorn as well as the design of the character who can transform into a great black bear. You’ll see various pencil sketches and painting of Beorn’s design as well clay sculptures. There are also many pieces of art designs of Beorn’s home, both interior and exterior, as well as scale models. All of these pieces have the artists initials such as Concept Art Directors Alan Lee and John Howe, Set Decorator Ra Vincent, and Costume Designer Ann Maskrey.
One of my favorite parts of The Desolation of Smaug, was the harrowing venture into the Mirkwood. The gloomy forest was brought to life by this incredible team of artists. This chapter truly underscores the level of detail that goes into the Tolkien films. These are not just sketches and thumbnail illustrations but full color paintings produced in order to aid in the film’s design. The artists provide their own commentary about the various pieces of art providing you the opportunity to get inside of their heads and know what they were thinking. The art also covers many of the specific scenes in the film such as the dwarves being captured and wrapped in cocoons by the spiders. And speaking of spiders the book displays many of the different arachnid designs.
The book goes into vast detail with the designs of characters as well including the various costumes and weapons of Tauriel, Legolas, the Elven Palace Guard, and Thranduil. The book includes comments from the actors who brought these characters to life including Evangeline Lilly and Luke Evans who plays Bard. Even though Azog the Orc appeared in the first film he is again covered in depth along with the Hunter Orcs, who are without a doubt the most grotesque Orcs yet.
Another of my favorite parts of the film is Gandalf’s exploration of Dol Guldur and his encounter with Sauron. The haunted remains of the ancient castle are fully realized in this section featuring stunning artwork. From the Dwarves escape from Mirkwood in the barrels to the Smaug’s treasure hoard, in all there are over 1000 pieces of art in the book that is not only lavishly illustrated but informative as well.