Elysium: The Art of the Film

16099206Title: Elysium: The Art of the Film
Author: Mark Salisbury
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Publisher: Titan Books
Source: Titan Books ARC
Genre(s): Art book, Science Fiction, Dystopian Future, Film & Cinema

Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Spoilers:
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Titan Books can always be counted on to produce an amazing art book. The folks they have working for them over there really take these projects to heart and the final product is always just absolutely stunning. But the Elysium art book really is a step above the rest. I got it in the mail a few days ago and just had to share it with Therese and Jane pretty much immediately. I showed up with this massive cardboard envelope and pulled out the book. Therese, who hadn’t seen the film, and Jane, who had gone with me to see it, were equally as impressed.

photo 1

And rightly so!

Pretty much anything you might have wanted to know about the design and development of this film can be found in this book. Well, except why they chose to embed an early 2000s digital camera in the back of Max’s head. I’m still not sure what purpose that serves. I mean, it’s not like he can use that view screen there now can he?

But I digress.

Okay, so, just one more minute because seriously. Look at this. It wasn't always a digital camera!

Okay, so, just one more minute because seriously. Look at this. It wasn’t always a digital camera!

In his foreward remarks, Blomkamp tells readers that as a kid he was always very interested in pretty much anything ‘behind the scenes’ or ‘art book’ related. He liked to see how people created the stories he told. That makes sense because Blomkamp has clearly put a lot of thought into the movies he’s made himself. Ever since he broke on to the scene in 2009 with District 9 he has prove himself to be capable of creating very intricate, dystopian worlds that I’ve heard some say are arguably more interesting than the thinly veiled social commentary that comes along with them. I think he blends his worlds and his commentary spectacularly and I know I’m not alone in that.

But Jane has written up a review for the movie here. (Spoiler: It’s awesome.)

We’re here to talk about the art book.

Which – as I’ve said – is awesome. It’s just… gorgeous. I had to share it with everyone. Though I was also careful because a lot of my friends hadn’t seen the movie yet. So I showed them a lot of the concept artwork instead of any of the actual sections. They put a lot of effort into this movie. I mean, they had hundreds of pages of concept art and dozens of different versions of practically every robot, exoskeleton, and setting in the movie.

I mean, you should see the like three pages worth of just tattoo artwork they put together.

I mean, you should see the like three pages worth of just tattoo artwork they put together. Just, like, tattoos. They also did a full spread of just logos from Elysium. Their attention to detail was quite impressive.

There are some art books that seem sort of unnecessary. Like, you don’t need to know just how many designs they went through for certain things. But this is one of those art books where you really care. Elysium gave us a very intricately designed dystopian future that was so visually compelling that you want to know just where things could have gone.

The differences in some of the designs for the vehicles and technology will literally blow you away. Not just because they look awesome – and the designs they chose look great, too – but because these people had such an imagination that they were able to just dream up all of these things. It was clearly a labor of love for all of them. Not just Blomkamp, not just the actors. The people behind the scenes really put a ridiculous about of effort into this film and what you see immortalized in the art book is a mere fraction of the artwork, storyboards, and concepts they put together.

The people behind this film were beyond phenomenal.

The people behind this film were beyond phenomenal.

The great thing about this book, too, is how well it’s written and how well it gets you into the moment. The more difficult choices are explained, actors get to chime in about their characters and motivations, and you really get to feel like you’ve got an inside look at what went into making Elysium.

It’s particularly important to note what went into making Elysium, too. We don’t get a whole lot of standalone science fiction any more. At most we get a bunch of Marvel superheroes, a Star Trek/Star Wars reboot, or an homage to earlier Spielberg films. But we’re starting to enter a sort of golden age for science fiction as more and more of the genre is reaching the big screen. It’s important to know what makes these films work and what doesn’t. It’s also important to know what goes into make the greats.

Elyisum is certainly one of the great films that’s going to come out of this science fiction renaissance – however long it might last. And thanks to this art book you can get to know a bit more about it. Besides, it looks super impressive on your bookshelf. Incredibly nerdy, yes. But it’s an impressive book nonetheless. The concept art for Elysium and Earth alone are more than worth checking this out. It is a must for science fiction cinephiles – believe me!

3 responses to “Elysium: The Art of the Film

    • District 9 set a VERY high bar. But I was really, really surprised at how much I liked Elysium. I was a bit iffy about Matt Damon when I heard he was cast but man. This movie really came together.

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