Words: Brody Rossiter & Louise Marsh
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve only watched one Harry Potter movie. It was fourteen years ago and to be perfectly honest I have very little recollection of the events that unfolded onscreen. And though I may have intermittently flicked through his novelistic exploits, this is pretty much where my cinematic experiences with the young wizard begin and end. Now, some might say that such inexperience and lack of knowledge when it comes to the Potterverse (I’m assuming I can call it the “Potterverse“) makes me a poor choice to review Titan Books’ latest entry into their Harry Potter series, Magical Places from the Films (Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, and Beyond).
However, I am romantically attached to a Harry Potter fanatic, and blackmail is a powerful tool when it comes to securing content such as book reviews for your website (I post a review and she gets the prized hardcover book). Therefore, while the words you are reading are my own, the opinions are largely those of the aforementioned super-fan – a super-fan who won’t suffer mediocrity when it comes to her Potter merchandise.
At first glance, feel and smell, this tome quickly becomes a book to covet. Its embossed cover, strong aroma of ink, and array of vibrant imagery immediately highlight that a high production value is present, not to mention one which is befitting of the franchise’s rich heritage – this is by no means a quick cash grab. The maroon and gold spine of Magical Places could comfortably find itself poking out upon a Hogwarts library shelf, beckoning bookworms to peel open the cover and discover what unknown treasures lay inside.
For a series of films that have been repeatedly poured over and dissected since their releases, the book manages to repeatedly unearth fun, insightful, and lesser known facts relating to the films’ production. For instance, a discussion of the pitfalls surrounding the creation and lighting of Hogwarts’ ‘Room of Requirement’ reveals just how much depth is present in terms of content. Those interested in the study and constructions of filmmaking, particularly mise-en-scene, whether you’re a Potter aficionado or not, will find much to hold their attention. The book is both an attractive keepsake and effective resource to have to hand.
The balance of content is also expertly handled. A myriad of source materials are carefully pieced together. Concept art, production stills, J.K. Rowling’s personal doodles, interviews and informative exposition all complement one another brilliantly ensuring that boredom is never a possibility. Returning to the books visual elements, of which there are many, it’s brimming with vibrant and beautifully printed artwork that undoubtedly makes for one of the most attractive film tie-ins I’ve had the pleasure of reading.
Harry Potter: Magical Places from the Films is an eye-catching and wonderfully diverse book that would be welcomed wholeheartedly into any fan’s collection. One minor gripe is the quality of the bonus Diagon Alley map included, which as a final surprise feels like an underwhelming missed opportunity in comparison to the pages which preceded it. Also, a means of more easily navigating the book’s chronological sections through a more detailed contents page would have been useful. Nevertheless, these are minor oversights in a concoction of lavish parts lovingly assembled by Jody Revenson.
The book wowed somebody who thinks they’ve already seen it all, and gripped an individual who doesn’t have a clue; hopefully it can do the same for many more out there. Now, time to cast a vanishing spell on it before she gets back, “Evanesco!”