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Elysium: The Art of the Film by Mark Salisbury (Review)

22/08/2013 17:05 BST | Updated 20/10/2013 10:12 BST

As director Neill Blomkamp says in the foreword, this book offers a "peek behind the curtain" of the film's journey to the big screen. He discusses his influences and thinking behind the making of the film - and we get to see some of the 3,000 pieces of concept art that were made even before anyone walked onto a set.

Elysium is set in 2159, a time when Los Angeles is a sprawling shanty town and the "super rich, super powerful elite" live in luxury and perfect health on an exclusive space colony orbiting Earth. Elysium can be seen from Earth, like a magical white halo in the sky. For Max (played by Matt Damon), an orphan, favela resident and factory worker, Elysium is his promised land and he dreams of having enough money to afford passage there. But after an industrial accident at work leaves him fatally irradiated, Max decides he must get to Elysium by any means necessary.

The attention to detail here is amazing. The book is divided into two sections: in the first, we get future Earth; and in the second, Elysium. We get everything from the look of the robots, vehicles and weapons, and Max's living quarters to the design of Elysium itself. When you learn that they built a mansion in Vancouver only so that they could crash a spaceship into it, you can well believe the movie cost $130 million to make. Thus this book offers a chance to see "all of the ingredients that culminated together to manufacture the huge magic trick that is a final film", as Blomkamp says.

The book has funny titbits - production designer Phil Ivey reveals the director's love of corridors (yes, there are drawings of these, too).

Attractively presented and well thought out, this is sure to be a real treat for fans of science fiction and special effects, as well as movie buffs.

Elysium: The Art of the Film is published by Titan Books