For quite some time now, I have been fascinated by the idea of owning beautiful books since I am sure that to postpone buying one such book to the future will only lead to a day when these beautiful books will become too dear a luxury to indulge in. Beautiful books refers to books with great stories and beautiful covers, illustrations and pages. In keeping with this resolve, I had ordered a Calla edition in May this year, which I was unable to review since it was received in Palampur and because our luggage already exceeded the permitted kilos per person, we had to leave all my books behind.
In September, my darling parents sent me money to buy myself a ‘surprise’ gift. I agonized over watercolors and books and papers for 3 months before I decided on buying myself another book for my collection. After a lot of search, mostly centered around the wonderful blog reviewing art books of all descriptions called Parka Blogs, I decided on The Art of Dreamworks Animation compiled by Ramin Zahed, containing artwork from the last 20 years of movie-making from the conception of the Dreamworks studio in 1994. A video of the book has been uploaded to my Wanton Ruminating Facebook page.
The last time I had ordered an expensive book from Amazon.com and waited a month for it, it arrived without any cling/bubble wrap and shoved into a cardboard box that had managed to scruff all the edges making it look like a second-hand book. So when I ordered this book from Amazon.in, I sent them and the distributors of the book emails asking them to be sure that they packed it properly this time. And, contrary to all reviews on the internet that said that Amazon no longer paid any attention to the proper packing of their books or to complaints about the same, they did! The book arrived in pristine condition, wrapped carefully in bubblewrap and made me incredibly happy.
The book is fabulous! It makes the almost month-long wait and the steep cost totally worth it. It contains beautiful full-page art work with a few pages dedicated to every movie the Dreamworks studio has made in the last two decades. The text is minimal and, what little there is, is in the form of boxed quotes from directors, producers and artists who were directly involved in the making of a particular movie. The illustrations have been printed on glossy paper and are sharp and clear with the colors popping out like all the shades of the rainbow as soon as you begin to flip through the pages.
At first glance, I thought maybe the pages dedicated to each movie were too less to truly contain much information. However, at a more leisurely perusal I realized that just those few pages contained such high quality and intricate art work that to appreciate each nuance would itself take a lot of time for an amateur. The hand-painted backgrounds in some of the movies we have loved over the years are truly extraordinary. The book is also just the right size – neither too bulky nor too flimsy.
The book is a brilliant tribute to the effort that goes into making a “small 90-minute children’s” movie. Tales of travelling to real locations in order to ensure authenticity of the landscapes in the movie are just an example of the incredible amount of dedication that the studio has to its projects. The anecdotes of artists working the whole day in order to gain 2-4 seconds of film makes me look at these animated children’s movies with new respect.
This book is a wonderful addition to the collection of people who appreciate art and beautiful books. Its USP lies also in the fact that one can appreciate so many different styles of animation in a single book. Perhaps serious animators would chaff at the small number of pages or art work or text dedicated per movie, but it is full of inspiration for amateurs and aspiring artists alike and will make a must-have addition to any self-respecting collector’s stash.