Lair of the Geek

Bringing you all the geek stuff

Authors: James Cameron
Publisher: Titan Books
Review: by Iain Garland.

100 years ago a big boat went for a bit of a sail, hit a chunk of ice and sank. That boat was the Titanic, which unless you’ve lived under a rock for your entire life you’ll know was one of the most famous disasters ever to happen. It also spawned a film by James Cameron which was absurdly successful and developed a massive fan base who have been treated to some great stuff this year as the 100th anniversary of the disaster. The biggest of these takes advantage of some modern technology with the release of a new 3D version of the film, and to accompany that we have the all new Titanic book to accompany the film, which does a fantastic job of covering both the history of the ship itself as well as providing some incredible insights into the making of the film.

It’s always dangerous reading books like this, books that are full of insider information, packed with images and photos from the film’s development and shows you just how the impressive effects came about. Films like Titanic work so well because of the realism involved, the way the makers do such a great job making people believe they’re watching something so close to the real thing it could almost genuinely be real. Add in a book that’s a bit bigger than A4 and nearly 200 pages in length and there’s every danger that the magic disappears, stolen by detailed explanations and pictures that tell you precisely how various parts of the film’s major moments took place. And yet having read this book and rewatched the film there’s no feeling that you know too much, just a bigger sense of appreciation of how much work and craftsmanship went into production, from the way the action was practiced and filmed in massive studio tanks of water through to the insanely intricate and detailed models of the ship that were created for long shots while out on the ocean.

Seeing the similarities between the original plans, the eventual building of the Titanic and the methods used to recreate the film version are fascinating even if you’re not too fussed about the film, but this is definitely something for Titanic fans. The sheer amount of information from both Cameron himself as well as various cast members and parts of the development team is matched only by the huge number of photos ranging from the dives to find the sunken remains through to makeup sessions, the “fake” Titanics set up on pneumatic platforms and even testing to see how Rose’s dress worked well submerged in water. But what fascinated me was the storyboards from the film’s development, showing just how much detail goes into these sketches during the early planning stages.

If I was to list everything that’s enjoyable about this book then I’d be here for along time, but what is crystal clear is that whether you’re a fan of the film, ingested in the Titanic in other ways or even just want to see exactly what goes into producing one of the biggest films in film making history then you’ll benefit from picking this up and giving it some attention. It’s interesting to read, is beautifully presented and with its holographic front cover will also look impressive lying on the coffee table when friends pop over.

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