The Art of Pan by Christopher Grove is one of those 'behind the scenes' books that will make you want to turn the pages and capture not only your attention, but your imagination too. You don't need to have seen the movie that the title is associated with to enjoy this well thought out book and the reason for this is the wonderful artwork that is between the covers.
The Art of Pan is a perfect visual companion to the movie packed with concept artwork and production notes that give you an interesting insight into how a movie is made and the work that goes in before a camera is set up.
Forwarded by Joe Wright, the director of the movie, you can tell that this book has been put together with love and a whole load of pride to sit along side the Warner Bros. movie, Pan.
You get your usual character sheet pages along with costume designs and artwork for each character but where this book really excels is the concept art for the set pieces. Each set piece is stunning to look at and reminded me of a number of movies and video games. Harry Potter, Monkey Island, Pirates of the Caribbean and Steven Spielberg's 1991 classic, Hook all seemed to be of influence in the sets. Even Indiana Jones sprung to mind when looking at some of the artwork especially the dust mine set.
For me though, it is the insights of the writer, Jason Fuchs who really paints the picture of how a movie gets from an idea to a blockbuster on the big screen. He explains in the first few pages how he had the idea for a Peter Pan movie while on a malfunctioning Peter Pan theme park in London at the age of nine.
My father and I were in a flying pirate ship over a miniature London. It was, to this day, the best twenty-five minutes of my life," recalls Fuchs, now twenty-eight.
Up in the ride vehicle, with LED stars twinkling all around and Peter and Wendy flying five feet from his face, Fuchs started to wonder: How did Peter get to Neverland? Why can he fly? How did he and Hook meet for the first time, and why do they hate each other so much?
"From that moment on, I desperately wanted to see a film that told the full story," Fuchs says.
His vision, along with the director and the other talent associated with bringing Pan to the big screen are all on show in this wonderful book. As mentioned, you don't need to have seen the movie, in fact at the time of writing this I still hadn't seen Pan but it didn't stop me reading the book and appreciating the work and attention to detail evident in bringing the movie to life. In fact the book made me smile and I felt like a kid again when looking at some of the colourful double spread artwork. Artwork you can stare at for ages and which will make your imagination wander.
The Art of Pan will also make you appreciate that modern films are not all about 'green screen' and CGI. Yes the movie has these things and some of the photos in the book will show you some of the green screen process. But what it does show you is the collaboration of these tools with practical effects and how much model work, make-up, costume design and set pieces still need to be made to bring a movie full of magic and fantasy to the silver screen.
I love this book and any movie fan should get The Art of Pan. It's an easy read and a perfect coffee table book to pick up and read in intervals. Problem is, Christopher Grove has done such a good job that you'll likely read it in one sitting. Highly recommended.
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