The Great Wall: The Art of the Film

Brick­ing it This guide to the re­cent Matt Da­mon non-block­buster lacks both art and in­sight, de­spite the fan­tasy set­ting of the film

ImagineFX - - Workshops -

We check out a glossy guide to the re­cent fan­tasy film set on the Great Wall of China.

The Great Wall is an his­tor­i­cal ac­tion fan­tasy film star­ring Matt Da­mon about a horde of mon­sters at­tack­ing the Great Wall of China. It gar­nered mixed re­views and did dis­ap­point­ing busi­ness at the box of­fice.

But there’s one thing every­one’s agreed on: it looks amaz­ing. So we were look­ing for­ward to check­ing out this cof­fee ta­ble tome that pur­ports to fo­cus on the art be­hind it. Yet just like the film it­self, this book is full of prom­ise but fails to de­liver.

What you ex­pect from an ‘art of the film’ book, es­pe­cially one cost­ing £30, is a de­tailed in­sight into how the vi­su­als were cre­ated. You want to see how the pro­duc­tion de­signs were built up, from orig­i­nal thumb­nail sketches through con­cept art and sto­ry­boards, to VFX

The book’s strong­est sec­tion is the 44 pages that are de­voted to the Tao Tei

break­downs. But while there is some of that, there’s far too lit­tle. In­stead, the bulk of the images are film stills, and much of the text is more broadly fo­cused on the making of the film, rather than its art and de­sign.

That’s a shame, be­cause in terms of sheer pro­duc­tion qual­ity, this is one of the most nicest look­ing books we’ve seen in a long while. Each of the images is beau­ti­fully re­pro­duced across the 210 large-for­mat, glossy pages. And where con­cept art­work is in­cluded, it’s stun­ning stuff. But there’s sim­ply not enough of this, and worse still, the artists be­hind it aren’t even cred­ited, which in­di­cates where this book’s pri­or­i­ties lie.

The strong­est sec­tion is the 44 pages de­voted to the Tao Tei. We get to see how th­ese mon­sters from Chi­nese legends were cre­ated for the film, from start to fin­ish, in­clud­ing re­search ma­te­rial, a range of early and de­vel­oped con­cept art, through to ma­que­ttes and 3D sculpts, along with artists’ in­sights about the think­ing be­hind each de­sign.

If the rest of the book had been like this, we’d have been happy bun­nies. Un­for­tu­nately, it isn’t. Granted, it’s well re­searched, and in­cludes in­ter­views with the di­rec­tor and pro­ducer, a range of char­ac­ter stud­ies, and a ton of de­tail about how the film was made. And phys­i­cally, it’s a beau­ti­fully pro­duced book with some ex­quis­ite fin­ishes, most no­tably the an­cient scroll-style bind­ing. Bot­tom line, though: it just isn’t an ‘art of’ book – it should have just been called a ‘making of’.

A Tao Tei Drone at­tacks: one of the few in­stances where sto­ry­boards are re­pro­duced in the book.

Con­cept art fea­tur­ing an early de­sign for a Tao Tei Queen. An­noy­ingly, the artist is un­cred­ited.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.