The Art of Gormenghast: The Making of a Television Fantasy

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9780002571562: The Art of Gormenghast: The Making of a Television Fantasy

Gormenghast is one of the great and enduring literary classics of the twentieth century and now, for the first time, Mervyn Peake’s magical dreamlike world has been brought to life in a stunning adaptation for the BBC.

The Art of Gormenghast is a lavish and comprehensive behind-the-scenes guide to the making of the Mervyn Peake BBC TV spectacular, the BBC classic drama serial for the Millennium.

This indispensible companion to the series provides an insight into every inspirational aspect of the Gormenghast story, from the strange genius of Peake, the visionary author and illustrator, to the stunning storyboard drawings of the award winning set designer Christopher Hobbs and the construction of the magnificent sets at Shepperton Studios.

This beautiful and entertaining book includes a wealth of fascinating and visually stunning illustrations and sketches which have never been publicly seen before, as well as the original notebooks with Peake’s handwritten story notes and numerous marginal sketches. It also features profiles and interviews with the leading members of the production team and the dazzling cast, not to mention a foreword by Stephen Fry.

Never before has a television production taken such a flight of fantasy and The Art of Gormenghast offers an opportunity to share this spectacular journey.

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Review:

Hats off to the BBC. Whether it was madness or genius that inspired a TV take on Mervyn Peake's dream- like, lyrical fantasy Gormenghast, the audacity of the attempt deserves to be saluted. They know it too. Hovering somewhere between arrogance and defiance, the first page of The Art of Gormenghast features a letter sent by Graham Greene to Mervyn Peake's wife in 1962 stating that the trilogy could not be filmed; "I'm very sorry to write so bluntly but what are the good of illusions?"

There need be no illusions about The Art of Gormenghast. This sumptuous companion to the TV series charts the making of an epic, inglorious behind-the-scenes Technicolor. Full-colour stills, interviews with leading members of the star-studded cast and production team, design, music and costume notes, storyboards, director's annotations and Peake's own illustrations are all woven together by producer Estelle Daniel's lovingly-crafted and wide-ranging narrative. Gormenghast's legacy is never far away, whether it's Daniel dissecting Peake's imaginary world, "his characters with their absurd names, are heightened and exaggerated towards the grotesque, but encompass a breadth of human experiences" or actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers, displaying all the single-minded conviction of his character, "like Steerpike I would rather die than fail and that's honest. I would rather die than fail."

In his Foreword, Stephen Fry gives some idea of the scale of the BBC's undertaking commenting that "they [the producers] were talking, it seemed to me, about the equivalent of four British feature films in the time it takes to make one". The massive effort involved in realising this TV dream mirrors Peake's own struggle to complete his work through war and illness; "He wrote in 'publishers' dummies' throughout the war ... At the end of each home leave he would pile them up under the bed ... his wife Maeve even sleeping with them so that she could move them quickly in case of an air raid." The parallel struggles bear witness to the potential of individual vision to achieve the extraordinary.

The Art of Gormenghast is a beautifully presented volume with absorbing text and photography that will delight all lovers of Peake's fantastic creation. It may have taken more than half a century to get this far but inevitably all roads lead to Gormenghast. --Iain Campbell

From the Back Cover:

Defying imitation, dreamlike and visionary, Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy occupies a unique place in modern English fiction. Now, for the first time, Peake's extraordinary work of imagination has been brought to life in a spectacular production for the BBC.

Written by Estelle Daniel, whose creative force as a producer has contributed to the realisation of Gormenghast as a unique piece of television, 'The Art of Gormenghast' provides an insight into every aspect of the Gormenghast story. From the strange genius of Peake, the author and illustrator whose diverse and deeply affecting experiences in feudal China and World War II gave birth to the Gormenghast legend, to the reality of a stunning production, 'The Art of Gormenghast' is a lavish and comprehensive behind-the-scenes guide to his landmark series.

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Book Description HarperCollins Entertainment, 2000. Soft cover. Book Condition: New. 1st Edition. A brilliant collection of memorabilia about the making of the BBC serial based on an 'unfilmable' epic, Mervyn Peake's very great Gormenghast and Titus Groan. Stephen Fry writes a thoughtful introduction, Sebastian Peake writes the Afterword, and between the two are articles and many photographs of Peake and the actors and the scenes and the drawings. A stunning tribute to this super work. NEW and UNREAD first edition. Bookseller Inventory # ABE-1479648673431

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