Crimson Peak is arguably one of the most anticipated films of 2015, but then any new cinematic offering from Guillermo del Toro is something of an event. As with many of the big studios’ high concept or prestige genre movies, Crimson Peak has an ‘art of…’ tie-in book, and just like del Toro’s movies, Crimson Peak: The Art of Darkness is a thing of beauty.
The book is divided into six chapters with the first four providing an insight into the characters of Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), Dr Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam), Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain), respectively. Not only do these chapters provide a background of the dramatis personae, but they reveal just how much detail del Toro goes into when he develops his characters, their motivations and flaws, and their childhood. There’s personal insights from the actors about their characters, and the production crew and artists revel in the detail that goes into the casts costumes and props that the audience will never see or consciously notice.
The fifth chapter charts the creation of Allerdale Hall, or rather the sets, and again this is another example of del Toro’s attention to detail. The sets are ceilinged, which created a challenge for the director of photography as he had to use a window, fireplace or other ambient source to light the sets. Then there’s the hall’s main corridor that is deliberately skeletal in design. There aren’t any green screen sets here, they are real, tangible and functional with a level of artistry that is breath taking.
The final chapter reveals just how vital a component colour is to del Toro in his film making process. The colour of the sets and how they are lit, the characters clothing, and in this case the ghosts themselves. They are truly terrifying creations and their colour depicts the manner of their deaths. Again, CGI is only used to augment the ghosts, as actors (del Toro alumni Doug Jones being one of them) bring the spirits to… life?
Filled with striking concept art and stunning photography, the book also features a number of special removable items, Victorian daguerreotype photographs, a booklet that showcases the film’s amazing costume designs, the film poster and potted histories of the characters that resemble journal pages and Victorian pamphlets.
Author Mark Salisbury has created an exemplary work that explores the creation of, what will hopefully be a sinister del Toro masterpiece. There are just one or two very minor niggles, however. The text is a silvery colour, which is fine on a dark page, but on a couple of the pages you may have to awkwardly angle the book in order to read the page. Also, sound is described as an important aspect of the film yet there is nothing mentioned about composer Fernando Velázquez’s score, and as all soundtrack enthusiasts know a good score can be a character in its own right.
CRIMSON PEAK: THE ART OF DARKNESS / AUTHOR: MARK SALISBURY / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW