Book Review: Crimson Peak: The Art of Darkness

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Guillermo del Toro really understands production value and how they can enhance the mood and atmosphere of films. If you have seen the book Guillermo del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions, you'll also know that he has exquisite and peculiar aesthetic tastes. To see a film like Crimson Peak from him is perhaps not surprising, but it sure is satisfying to find out what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to making this film.

This 160-page hardcover is an elegant book designed to evoke the same mood from the film. The Sharpe crest or coat of arms together with the thorns on the cover are embossed. And in the book, there are several removable items in the form of letters, booklets, notes, journal pages. The removable items are nice and give the whole book a scrapbook kind of feel. However, what do you do after you removed the items? Well, you stick them back. Publisher Insight Editions has published a lot of scrapbook-style artbooks and over the years, I find that it's just better to print all the content onto the pages. Maybe because I'm an unexciting person.

This book is packed with content. The pages are wonderfully laid out with beautiful photos of the set, scenes and props. There are also concept art for the design of costumes, the Allerdale Hall house. The set design is amazing. Guillermo del Toro says that this is the most beautiful looking movie he has even made. It is. The three-storey-high Gothic Revival-style mansion looks amazing, especially the interiors. Nobody design rooms like that anymore nowadays. It's like you're being transported to another world or time just to see this. There are lots of photos and art on the interior, the corridors, hallways, rooms, stairs, etc.

The extensive writeup is sure to delight fans as it covers the characters, the character development, inspiration for the film, the process of movie making, set making and generally the whole story process and art direction. It's enlightening to find out how such an elaborately designed film is made.

One minor quibble is the text on page 101 is printed in silver against pale background, effectively making it very difficult to read unless you read it against light reflecting over the silver print.

Overall, this is a terrific book. It's well worth the money. Highly recommended.

Crimson Peak: The Art of Darkness is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository

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