Review: Infographic Guide to the Movies / Author: Karen Krizanovich / Publisher: Octopus Books / Release Date: September 20th
There’s a current trend in books that the sharp-eyed among us can’t help but notice. It first came to our attention here at Starburst with the Time and Space Visualiser, which gave us a whole new way of looking at the minutiae of Doctor Who. Since then, a few more of this type of book have come our way, the most recent being the Infographic Guide to the Movies.
As film and TV fans, it goes without saying that collectively, we love our trivia. Our facts and figures. The more obscure and esoteric, the better. So, in our never-ending quest for that vital piece of information, the one that can stop a conversation dead in its tracks, anything that will enable us to track it down without the need for spending hours online (or, if you’re old-school, delving through your own body weight in back issues if Starburst) should definitely be of interest.
An infographic is exactly what the name implies. It’s basically a graph, showing trends, and imparting information visually. Here, that principle is applied to movie trivia – our lifeblood. Only we’re not talking about mere pie and Gantt charts, though they form the basis of some of the graphics.
Naturally, there are all the types of information you’d expect to find in a book like this – facts and figures about the Oscars, which is the highest grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation (some of the films on that list are surprising). But there’s a whole lot more than that on offer here.
This is a book you can dip into to discover, for example, how Bruce Willis is killed most often in his films. Who, based on a simple mathematical formula, is the best Bond. (No spoilers, but it isn’t George Lazenby.) Which of Sylvester Stallone’s iconic characters has been most successful both at the box office AND in battle – Rocky or Rambo? Which everyday items found in homes are most often used as murder weapons in film? Which five remakes have earned double or more their production cost and infinitely more than the original film? Budding scriptwriters can also see a graphic breakdown of how Hollywood screenwriting guru Syd Field’s overarching three act format (set-up, confrontation and resolution) is applied to Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life.
But what’s in it for Starburst readers who specialise in horror and sci-fi? Oh, plenty. Does Inception confuse you? Well, there’s a helpful guide to characters' journeys as they move through the four levels of dream time. For Matrix fans you can track Neo’s route through the first film (which, let’s face it, is the only one that really counts) and examine the key interactions in the three zones of existence. Want to know which decade from the seventies to the twenty tens saw the most slasher movie victims, or whether is was Michael Myers, Pinhead, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface or that charming Mr Krueger who killed the most people during their cinematic reigns of terror, or where in the world, according to the movies, are you most likely to be attacked by a zombie? It’s all here.
It’s not a book to sit down with and read cover to cover – that was never its purpose. But it’s absorbing to delve into and explore. And it will certainly give you the conversational edge next time you talk films with your friends.