This book exceeded all my expectations, and it certainly befits the Harry Potter film saga.
This is a large format 532-page hardcover. It's so huge and hefty so you can't really hold it for reading without resting it on something, like your lap. The cover is beautifully designed with an embossed title and a window looking at Hogwarts.
There are three parts to the book. The first is "The Making of Harry Potter" and covers the complete film making process of all the seven Harry Potter titles. The second is "The Art of Harry Potter" and that covers the characters, locations, creatures and artifacts. The third is the epilogue. It took me several days to finish reading.
I want to make special mention on the layout of the content which is beautiful and thoughtful. All the stunning photos and art are published at high resolution. On some pages, there are illustrations or patterns printed on a thin gloss that gives the page a slight shine as you flip over. The text is set on light cream coloured paper. There's an illustrated drop cap that starts every chapter, and every section in the chapter ends with a nice symbol. Even the choice of typography used is excellent.
The first part featuring the film production stories are a joy to read. It starts right at the beginning, from getting the copyright to make the films, to casting and filming right to the last day. There are lots of interesting details to read about, such as interactions between the actors and film crew, how the stage and props are made and the challenges and considerations of filming.
You read about how the children were like deers in the headlight on their first day of filming. There were extensive laughing, constant looking into the camera. As you read along towards the last film, you know how much they have grown as actors.
The writing is wonderful. The author Bob McBabely is a master at weaving the stories, controlling the flow and transition from one section to another. There's a part where Emma Watson admits to having a crush on Tom Felton and in the next sentence Tom Felton says,"Poor Emma. Of course I knew; it was obvious. But I never mentioned it.". There amount of research and interviews done must be incredible. Every film crew mentioned are given introductions and a thorough background on what they do.
The stories on set designs are really interesting. You can find out how sets are constructed, like Hogswarts and all the different rooms and secret locations. I thought the underwater scene in Goblet of Fire was totally CGI but it turned out that Daniel Radcliffe actually had to swim, while holding his breath, and act in a water tank. And of course, there are details on how that water tank was built, with heaters, bacteria-killing UV lights, and the little things that don't cross our minds.
The second part of the book is sort of like the encyclopaedic look at the characters, locations and artifacts. There are staff commentary on everything. You can look into the different classrooms of professors, read The Daily Prophet, check out The Weasleys' tent at the Quidditch World Cup, marvel at the different broomstick designs, etc. Amazing and detailed photos of the sets fill the pages.
There are concept art in the book as well, and they are great. There are designs for Dobby, dragons, props, environment art, etc. This is the only book where you can see them because there aren't any Harry Potter art books.
This book is highly recommended to fans of the Harry Potter films. It gives a new sense of appreciation for the film and the people who worked behind the scenes. It's something you'll want to make the magic last a bit longer.
Compared to Harry Potter Film Wizardry
Harry Potter Film Wizardry is like a condensed version of Page to Screen. Much of the content in terms of text and photos are duplicated. There are some information and photos that are not included in Page to Screen though. That book is designed like a scrapbook with little goodies — booklets, stickers, maps, even Harry's letter of acceptance to Hogwarts, etc - attached to the pages. The layout is nice, magazine-like.
If you're just looking to get one book, then there's no doubt about choosing Harry Potter Page to Screen. If you're the true blue Harry Potter fan, then of course you'll want both books.
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