This book, detailing the history of M-G-M's Hollywood backlot is a nostalgic feast for lovers of classic movies. Hundreds of behind the scenes photosThis book, detailing the history of M-G-M's Hollywood backlot is a nostalgic feast for lovers of classic movies. Hundreds of behind the scenes photos give the reader a virtual tour of the sets and sound stages of the studio that once claimed it had "more stars than there are in heaven." The book is divided into four parts, the first part, "Lands of Make-Believe," gives a brief history of MGM's formation and then guides us through the studios various departments - the Writer's building, Sound and Makeup Departments, Art Department, Dressing Rooms, Film Vaults, etc. Part Two, "Potemkin's Villages," takes us on to Lot 2 and its constructed locales, sets made to look like everything from a New England Street to a courtyard in Verona. Along the way, we learn which movies were filmed on each set and how the sets were often redesigned to accommodate various needs. Part Three "Mythic Landscapes," details the environments of lots three thru six, including the famous St. Louis street where the Smith family mansion from "Meet Me in St. Louis" was located. You'll also see the western set that was used for the town of "Sandrock," in Judy Garland's "The Harvey Girls," including the station where she sang "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe." Here is where you'll also find the waterfront that housed the Cotton Blossom riverboat from "Showboat," and the Mayflower from "Plymouth Adventure." Reading Part Four, "Backlot Babylon," made me extremely sad as it is this section that details the mismanagement and decline of the studio including its disastrous decision to sell of the backlots for development. Dozens of pictures show the deteriorating and deserted sets. The saddest pictures are those that show the beloved locations of so many classic films being bulldozed into rubble. Two men were primarily responsible for destroying MGM - Kirk Kerkorian and James Aubrey. The book does a good job of detailing the deals they made that eventually destroyed one of Hollywood's greatest movie studios. I actually got angry while reading of their callous disregard for the studio's history.
This book is a wonderful testament to the hard work of so many designers, construction workers and artisans who put their heart and soul into constructing some of the most beautiful sets ever seen in the movies. It's heart-breaking that the greed of two men, destroyed it all. Thank heavens for this book. In its pages we can walk through the streets of MGM's once famous backlot and get a sense of what it must have been like to work there in its glory days....more
The only familiarity I had with the Ramayana prior to reading this book was the names of some of the gods -Vishnu and Brahma and a few of the other chThe only familiarity I had with the Ramayana prior to reading this book was the names of some of the gods -Vishnu and Brahma and a few of the other characters, Sita and Hanuman, but I had no idea what their story was or how they related to one another. This is an epic tale and from what I gather from the introduction, the author of this version, Sanjay Patel, has streamlined the story. I have no idea what he's left out, but what he's left in makes a fun and exciting read. The author's great achievement is not his condensation of the story but his incredible illustrations, over 100 of them that he has created to accompany his retelling of the Ramayana. Patel has a great eye for color and composition and it comes as no surprise that he has worked on some of Pixar studios wonderful films. His talent is impressive and at times his work reminded me not of the Pixar films but another great example of animated storytelling - the wonderful series "Samurai Jack." I was especially reminded of "Samurai Jack" in his use of color, his 'widescreen' compositions and his elegantly designed backgrounds. I bought this book on a whim, after only seeing a few examples of the art, I'm glad I did. I know I'll be looking at it over and over, especially whenever I feel the need for a dose of artistic inspiration....more