The Art of the Iron Giant
Finally, the film of a boy and his robot gets its own ‘art of’ book. We find out if this retrospective exercise was worth the wait
Seventeen years after its theatrical release, the film of a boy and his giant alien robot finally gets its own ‘art of’ book. Was it worth the wait?
Released back in 1999, The Iron GIant didn’t exactly break box office records. But 17 years on, there’s still huge love for it. That’s partly because it was one of the last animated films of the hand-drawn era, and partly because it built on Ted Hughes’ short story so beautifully. So it’s high time it got the art book treatment.
This gorgeous 148-page, largeformat hardback begins with a foreword by director Brad Bird, who explains how the making of the film involved a long period of creative exploration involving “a wonderful variety of visual approaches.” This was then followed by a “hurried rush of artwork generated to quickly nail down a producible look.” A wide range of incredible art was created in both periods, and this book brings together the best of both approaches.
Author Ramin Zahed keeps the text – which includes new interviews with Bird and other key members of the film’s creative team – short and to the point. This provides ample room for fascinating preparatory sketches and evocative concept art by the likes of Victor Haboush and Dominique Louis. We also get to see detailed backgrounds and storyboards, as well as alternative images and plotlines ultimately rejected by the film-makers.
In all, this smorgasbord of an art book offers a fascinating insight into the creative process behind handdrawn animation, and one of its best recent showcases.
The Iron Giant hides in a workshop, while contemplating a metal snack, in Victor Haboush’s concept art.