Tuesday, 2 December 2014
Review: Harry Potter - The Creature Vault by Jody Revenson
Publisher: Titan Books
Released: October 24th, 2014
Dementors and Goblins, Merpeople and Chinese Fireball Dragons - these are just a few of the magical creatures and frightening monsters populating JK Rowlings wizarding world. The Vault takes a comprehensive look at the fascinating process of bringing the menagerie to life for the blockbuster Harry Potter film series. With detailed profiles of each creature, rare pieces of concept art, behind the scenes shots and film stills, this is unmissable!
The Creature Vault is yet another amazing addition to the Harry Potter movie library. It might actually be my favourite of all the books detailing this ten-year movie-making process, because it focuses solely on the creatures and beasts featured in all eight films. It includes many film stills, production art and images of maquettes, as well as pages of text explaining how the creatures were designed for the big screen. It's a fascinating read and one that I'll be going back to again and again.
My personal favourite part of the Harry Potter movies has always been the array of fantastical creatures created by J.K. Rowling. In fact, the Creature Shop is the best part of the London Studio Tour, and I love looking around it every time I go - I not-so-secretly wish all these creatures were real! Obviously this insight into the creatures of the films has been touched on in other books, namely Harry Potter: Page to Screen, but so far there hasn't been anything as in-depth as this. The cover alone is worth a purchase; it's a lovely deep purple with devised creature silhouettes all around it, an intricate design that I'd only expect from a volume of this calibre.
The book itself is split into mine sections such as Lake Dwellers, Shape-shifters, The Working World and Trespassers. These sections cover every Harry Potter beast and creature you can think of, including dragons, dementors, thestrals, owls, boggarts, gnomes and grindylows. Each section is full of images and artwork, so much in fact that several hours will easily pass before you've properly seen everything. Every image, whether it be a photo or a page of concept art, is presented in glorious high-resolution and doesn't lose a single pixel. It's also really easy to navigate, divided into sections and sub-sections that make this coffee table book very easy to dip in and out of.
There are certain parts of The Creature Vault that I particularly enjoyed, especially the part about Dobby the House Elf. It's interesting to see how he came to look like the Dobby we all know and love, as facially he could have turned out very differently. The book says he went through many different designs before reaching the final version, and he was also the first fully computer-generated major character seen in the franchise. It's little facts like this that I love to read and keep in my head forever, and this book is full of them!
I honestly don't think any written review will do this book justice; it needs to be seen to be believed, much like the creatures littered throughout its pages. To a Harry Potter fan it's a veritable treasure trove of information and visual delights, made even better by the behind the scenes insight that accompanies every image. For the casual film fan it's a journey through ten years of design and production on one of history's greatest cinema achievements, and is deserving of a place in any movie library. For me The Creature Vault is a great reminder of J.K. Rowling's unparalleled imagination, the excitement of watching eight incredible films and my annual visits to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. I think it's the best non-fiction title of 2014 and it is, without a doubt, the most perfect book for Harry Potter fans.