Author: Ramin Zahed
Publication Date: 2012
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: 156 pages
Hello everyone, and thank you all for visiting! I wanted to make sure I got a book review out before we close another month, so this time, I’ve selected a recent favourite from my reading pile – The Art of Rise of the Guardians. I don’t own very many DreamWorks art books, but this one makes me eager to collect more – it’s better than a lot of the Pixar art books I’ve seen, with Ramin Zahed up there with the likes of Charles Solomon and Jeff Kurtti as one of the best modern animation writers (he also wrote the 2014 compendium celebrating the studio’s twentieth anniversary). While the book uses the same landscape format as the standard art book, it’s a tad thicker than most of its brethren and boasts some wonderful print quality – the colours really leap off the page, which is especially apt for a festive film like this.
Alec Baldwin’s foreword makes for a pleasant opening – his personal issues notwithstanding – as he talks with enthusiasm about his experience of playing North, even comparing the film favourably to those of the Golden Age of Animation (always a treat to hear a non-specialist refer to such things). This is followed by author William Joyce’s lovely preface, in which he explains the genesis of the idea for his books and reflects fondly on what these iconic characters mean to him and his children. After an informative intro to the overall production courtesy of Zahed, we then get into the meat of the thing.
Zahed’s approach is to divide the book into sections based around each character and their respective worlds: North Pole, Bunny Empire, Tooth Palace, The Clouds (for Sandy), Pitch’s Lair, and The Human World (for Jack and the kids). Each one goes into detail on the inspirations for the designs of each world, each personality and even some specific scenes, supported by a wealth of concept art including some early alternate interpretations of the characters. Zahed’s text is accompanied throughout by informative snippets from key players on the production team, giving us a more well-rounded view of the film’s creation. Thanks to the high-quality printing, the backgrounds and environments being showcased here look particularly luscious, making this a fun volume to flip through and an excellent source of visual inspiration for any artists out there. (I’m afraid my photos don’t really do it justice.)
One of the book’s special selling points is The Making of Sequence 1300: The Tooth Palace, which can be found midway through. Using a massive fold-out, the section provides a handy graphic visualisation of the complicated production pipeline – from script to post and everything in between – on one side, while the flip side features info about the scene from key production staff and a fun collage of behind-the-scenes imagery, including some wacky pre-rendered stills of the characters. I love this inclusion; it’s the kind of extra detail so often missing from books like this, and it really adds that special something to make this a more valuable addition to your collection.
As we close the book with the acknowledgements and colophon, I just can’t help wishing there was more! Then again, given the film’s unfortunate failure at the box office back in the day, I suppose we’re lucky to have gotten such a lush art book devoted to it in the first place. While this one is out of print now and can thus be rather expensive, I urge fans of the film to keep an eye out for any reasonably priced copies – this one is worth a little patience.
Thank you so much for reading, and if you’re a fan of this somewhat forgotten film, I hope you’re able to find an affordable copy of this for your collection! Now, I know we’re coming up to April, but this year, I’ve decided not to put out an anniversary post. To be frank, I’m too embarrassed at the lack of content over the last year – and after all, the sixth anniversary isn’t an especially notable one anyway. Just know that I’m still deeply grateful to you all for visiting, particularly those of you who have stuck around for the long haul despite the drop-off in film reviews.
Out of the handful of articles I have published in the last year, I am quite proud of my Disney Canon Actors Table, which took a lot of work – I’ve now made that its own page for easier access. As for the books, I’d like to highlight the Walt Disney Film Archives, Don Bluth’s Somewhere Out There, and Didier Ghez’s They Drew As They Pleased series as special favourites that I think you’ll enjoy. As ever, the battle to resume work on film reviews continues, but there are plenty more books on the shelf, too! Makoto Shinkai’s Suzume is coming out next month too, so I plan to do a short review of that. Until next time, take care and staaay animated!
Buy it on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Art-Rise-Guardians-Ramin-Zahed/dp/1781165815/ – UK
https://www.amazon.com/Art-Rise-Guardians-Ramin-Zahed/dp/1608871088/ – USA