Interstellar: Beyond Time And Space by Mark Cotta Vaz

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Interstellar: Beyond Time And Space by Mark Cotta Vaz

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Category: Entertainment
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Certainly the definitive pictorial guide to a stand-out film, which covers all the bases very well.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: November 2014
Publisher: Titan Books
ISBN: 9781783293568

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Christopher Nolan speaks here of two pertinent visits to the cinema to see sci-fi epics. The first time round it was Star Wars, and the young cinema craftsman in the making became an avid fan, who eventually found the story and nature of the film's construction almost as epic, invigorating and absorbing as the movie itself. After that came a chance to see a re-release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, upon which Nolan reports information about the making of Kubricks's masterpiece was harder to come by than Lucas's. You don't need me to tell you that nowadays information about making of movie magic is all around us – the trailers and camera diaries of set footage advertising upcoming blockbusters in parallel with each other, the DVD and Blu-Ray extras, and so on. And I'm sure a lot of that is evident with the example of Interstellar, Chris Nolan's attempt to bridge the gap between Star Wars and 2001 and create a thinking woman's emotional, family sci-fi epic. Likewise, too, this book, which is a happy ground between being told only the bare outlines, and the full-on, nothing-kept-sacred smorgasbord detail of a Blu-Ray. A very happy ground, indeed, that will leave many a happy reader.

I haven't seen the film in question, but have heard enough, and have received enough intimations and clues to piece a lot of the work together mentally. So I think I can safely say this book does give one major spoiler away, by not only confirming but adding to something I barely knew about, but does not give us any concluding beats of the film's narrative – the only storyline ended on these pages is the main focus, that of the creation of the film. Like as not, however, you are turning to this volume having sat through the three hours of the movie, and want to know more – and of course, in this instance, to possess a wonderful memento (pun intended) of the movie that will work as a source of detailed information long after the home viewing options have arrived on your shelves/hard drives.

That detailed information is presented just as brilliantly as you'd want – from the origins of the ideas, to the concept art, to the actual production itself, everything here is extremely pictorial, but the words carry us through the film-making narrative from beginning to end in fine fashion (helped a little by a lot of the film being more-or-less constructed in chronological story order). Our author is expert, it would appear, at doing these trumped-up puff pieces for modern blockbusters, having done Twilight movie tie-ins as well as one for Godzilla, and manages to juggle press junket quotes with his own source interviews, and give us just what we want. I'm sure it helps proceedings here when the topic is itself so distinctive, progressive and boundary-pushing, but Vaz never drops us in hyperbole as much as guides us most sensibly through a few remarkable indications of how remarkable the film itself is supposed to be.

He's not great at picking through who thought of what in the actual conception of the film – Nolan taking on board but adapting an actually quite old script from his brother; nor does it quite work when verbally describing the indescribable Tesseract notion in the film; and he falls in with the standard line from the production that it was so remarkable at defining a physical, real-world look for wormholes that was supposed to be revolutionary and so new, without showing any proof of this. But the whole purpose of the book is pretty much perfectly met – a companion piece, giving the converted more than enough inside gen (as in the bizarre use of salt to create the visual effect of one particular journey), but also providing the previously agnostic – such as this writer – the impetus to see something quite intriguing, and that only has to match this book's qualities of being visually stunning, educational and really quite absorbing.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

To look back in time a little as regards sci-fi, the latest coffee-table brightener I found much favour with was Battlestar Galactica Vault: The Complete History Of The Series, 1978-2012 by Paul Ruditis.

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