In a very thoughtful and carefully constructed manner, Adam Allsuch Boardman brings forth a tight, interesting book detailing everything you need to know about movie-making and how it bloomed into an enormous, multi-disciplinary industry.
We’ve all seen movies, from older black and white classics like Wizard of Oz and Citizen Kane to modern giants like Star Wars and The Avengers. But how all of these films and franchises came to be is a long story, one full of innovation, twists of surprise success, and turns alongside historic events. Boardman’s An Illustrated History of Filmmaking has encapsulated, with great clarity, the majority of technological marvels and revolutionary minds in film of every decade since the first use of light and visual storytelling. “Before there were cameras, before there were sets, before there was Hollywood… there was light.” And without getting lost in tangents or lingering too long on a given time period in the industry’s formative years, this book packs a great deal of information about inventive early film figures such as French engineer Louis Le Prince (responsible for “the earliest surviving film in existence”) and his rival, Thomas Edison, as well as work such as that of George Melies prior to and early in the 1900s, an unusually creative mind in early film. And that’s just the beginning! The advances in film are illustrated beautifully, including contributions from great minds all over the world, such as Akira Kurosawa, an influential Japanese director in the post-WWII era who painted his own storyboards. This cohesive, yet almost light piece of literature is absolutely filled with fascinating historical achievements and very useful context to back it up
History is vast, if not dense. The best history lessons are told in stories, but sometimes there’s too much to sift through or not enough time to get all the important details. As a kid, I really struggled with history lessons, as a more visual learner. To me, this book is a great comprehensive guide for a young reader, maybe between the elementary and middle school; additionally it might be a great tool for children with learning disabilities that are interested in film! This is not to say Boardman’s work is remedial, not in the slightest.
The artwork is almost minimalistic, but contains an immense amount of detail, from studio layouts to specifically designed costumes and famous names in film history. Even in a complex scene depicting various camera apparatuses or the process behind a zoetrope are illustrated in a very clean, streamline fashion, this making them easier to digest visually. Even the color scheme is calm and controlled without being too dull or overly dynamic. To me, these characteristics are attributed to not only a very professional-looking body of work, as every section has the same level of quality, but it lends itself to cohesion, making the information easier for readers to process and retain the information provided.
There’s even a concise, yet detailed glossary of individual jobs in filmmaking as well as common terms! I sincerely think this would be a wonderful gift to a young mind with a passion for film.
An Illustrated History of Filmmaking by Adam Allsuch Boardman will be available for purchase on October 9th and is currently up for pre-order.