View Single Post
Old 10-12-2010, 05:04 AM
masterofmystery masterofmystery is offline
Default Review: Harry Potter: Film Wizardry by Brian Sibley

With the end of the Harry Potter film franchise nearing, it seemed the right time to go back and savour the highlights of the ten-year long series. Harry Potter: Film Wizardry does just that: a scrapbook that encompassed the decade-long saga, where everyone from the producers, directors, and production designer explain in details how they conceptualised some of the plot points and settings; and the actors, including the three stars, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, hit memory lane to disclose some of the best, funniest, and sometimes most uncomfortable times they had playing Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the films.

The book begins with a foreward from Dan, Rupert, and Emma, who gush about how much of an impact the series made in their lives. Dan remarked on the journey both he and Harry endured in the ten years; Rupert took pride in playing brave Ron Weasley, the "ultimate ginger," in his words; and Emma voiced her respect for her young, annoying, brainy Muggle-born fictional counterpart she thought she had nothing in common with early in the series, but who she embraced with all her heart by the end. It then lead into the first of many producer's notes scattered throughout the book, where David Heyman, the man who read the first Harry Potter book, fell in love, and immediately insisted on making the films, explained how he began to piece the movies together well over ten years ago.

Author Brian Sibley compiled the scrapbook with a combination of production notes, countless cast and crew interviews, set visits, knowledge of the book and film series, and production photos and movie stills to make the quintessential anthology of the Harry Potter film series. The book itself ended with a sneak preview of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, with nothing more than image captions under a dozen or so small photos from Gringotts and Hogwarts. Just enough of a teaser to make the reader wish there were a few more pages at the end, chronicling the end of the saga.

One of best features of the book, however, was that it focuses on so many of the minor details fans could never have been expected to notice, and the production teams that worked endlessly to make them. Here you have clear shots of Daily Prophet articles and issues, rooms filled with creatures like Buckbeak and thestrals, various angles of the Room of Requirement both from Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows: Part II, Privet Drive and Diagon Alley, and countless rooms, corridors, and facets from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The book was decorated with hundreds of set images and movie stills, and admittedly, they were a bit distracting from the stories and interviews in the passages about each movie, character, and settings. Would you rather read about Number 4, Privet Drive, or stare at close-up images of the Dursleys' sitting room, equipped with overly-colourful furniture, lots of curtaining, and photos upon photos of Harry Melling, who played Harry's cousin Dudley? The Film Wizardry book is one to go through several times: the first, naturally, would be to take in the photos, and how some of the magical aspects of the films came to life. After a few rounds of having thoroughly memorised the images - especially the never-before-seen ones from Deathly Hallows, including Bill and Fleur's wedding, and Harry and Hermione at Godric's Hollow - it's time to turn to the beginning, sit back, and enjoy the read.

If there's one thing Harry Potter film fans complained about, it was the fact that they don't get all the minute details from the books on-screen. In many instances, judging by the Film Wizardry book, the sets and props were either too small or were shown in a quick flash, but they were present on set and screen. In fact, with some pieces, it's astounding the effort and detail put into them in order to be as authentic as possible. There are several small detachable pamphlets and memorabilia from the film set that exemplified just that.

In the Diagon Alley section is a Borgin & Burkes merchandise booklet, with photos and serial numbers of several skull-related goods sold there, and a few expensive objects with "Price: on request" tags on them, such as the Hand of Glory and cursed Opal Necklace. At the end of the book wasa small image of a book, with black covering, called "Secrets of the Darkest Art." For all Harry Potter fans, there's no explanation as to what that particular tome is about.

What brought the set and production stories to life were the interviews with the cast and crew. The most pleasantly surprising, it must be said, was how much thought and effort many of the second and tertiary actors have put into their characters. Case in point: Sirius Black and Bellatrix Lestrange. Gary Oldman and Helena Bonham Carter pondered over the back-stories of their characters - who of course were first cousins - to such great deal that they imagined Sirius and Bellatrix's childhood together, and the idea of them actually getting along. Gary said, "I'm sure at one time, when we were kids, we played very nicely together," to which Helena retorted, "I bet we played doctors and nurses when young!"

The Film Wizardry's greatest aspect was that it might just make a fan of the biggest Harry Potter book-fiend. While so much of the each book could hardly be shown in two-and-a-half-hour films, the production team's heart was always in the right place. It was without a doubt that everyone involved with the Harry Potter series, going by the Film Wizardry book, loved every second of working at Leavesden studios and on-location, and their adoration for the work will attract fans of all ages.

The Harry Potter Film Wizardry book, out October 19th, can be pre-ordered at and
Reply With Quote