The Art Of The Film book is something of a mixed bag of late. The format lends itself perfectly to animated movies and usually finds great success when doing so (which is probably why almost every animated film that comes out now gets an Art Of book to go with it). When it comes to art of books for live action film and TV projects, the books are much more miss than hit.
Which brings us to The Great Wall; a film that – whilst it has divided the opinions of those who have seen it – has some stunning design and visual work up on the screen that should lend itself perfectly to an Art Of book. It’s a shame then that, like the film itself, it promises so much potential, but doesn’t really deliver on it.
The big problem with the book is that it isn’t much of an art of book, with the bulk of it being something of a lightweight making of/character guide instead. This element of the book is largely made up of a lot of backslapping text (which does offer a few interesting bits of information), a few behind the scenes photos (mostly cast and crew discussing the shot etc.), a lot of stills from the film and some pretty dull character/costume design pictures.
There is a section that focuses on the Tao Tei (the monsters in the film), with some pictures of the scrolls from the film and some concept designs and models for the Tao Tei themselves. Unfortunately, as nice as some the Tao Tei concept art is, it’s also very similar and repetitive, meaning it loses impact after several pages.
Where the book really excels is in the stunning concept art for the wall and its surrounding locations. Here you’ll find some stunning landscape paintings, designs on the inner workings of the wall and a nice fold out map of the wall (showing the kind of weapons used on it and how they’re positioned).
On the whole, the book is put together in a lovely way and there are some lovely touches throughout, but overall, you can’t help but feel that it could’ve done with less text and focus on the making of the film and more focus on the actual art and design. After all, most people come to an Art of book for the art above everything else.
THE GREAT WALL: THE ART OF THE FILM / AUTHOR: ABBIE BERNSTEIN / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW