Review and Giveaway: “Harry Potter: Film Vault: Volumes 1–4” from Insight Editions
Harry Potter film buffs, rejoice (or weep into your empty wallets), for we now have yet another set of beautiful behind-the-scenes books to pore over. Insight Editions is giving us 12 (yes, 12!) volumes of Harry Potter: Film Vault to charm, delight, and make our bookshelves look fabulous – if there’s enough room next to all the other Harry Potter–related books already on our shelves! Take a look at our sneak peek and review of these charming reads from MuggleNet’s Archival Manager, Emily Sniegowski.
Each of Insight Editions’s Harry Potter: Film Vault books covers a different aspect of the films, and I got the opportunity to read volumes 1–4 before they were released! Harry Potter: Film Vault: Volume 1 – Forest, Lake, and Sky Creatures and Harry Potter: Film Vault: Volume 2 – Diagon Alley, the Hogwarts Express, and the Ministry were released on September 10, 2019, and these first two are my favorite of the four so far. Each book has gorgeous photography and concept art from the films and includes behind-the-scenes information about how the creatures, sets, props, etc. were designed for the films. There are quotes from production designer Stuart Craig abound, as well as from graphic design team MinaLima and many additional prop makers, special effects technicians, and other filmmakers. Volume 1 has some beautiful multi-angle perspectives of the creatures – like Buckbeak, below – and fun details from the set. For instance, when Aragog had his final shoot, the crew wore black armbands in mourning because they loved him so much (RIP, Aragog).
Some of my favorite bits from Volume 2: Diagon Alley, the Hogwarts Express, and the Ministry include the incredible map of Gringotts and concept art for St. Mungo’s, which was unfortunately cut from the films (#dissapoint) but at least got a shout-out in this book, which I appreciated greatly (note the witch who seems to have turned her body into a vase).
Volumes 3 and 4, Horcruxes and the Deathly Hallows and Hogwarts Students, respectively, are being released on October 8, and these were less exciting to me. Volume 3 is a bit of a misnomer since the book covers much more than just Horcruxes and Deathly Hallows. In fact, it begins with objects from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – winged keys, chess pieces, etc. – which confused me when I began reading it, expecting, well, Horcruxes and Hallows. My favorite part of this volume, though, was the spread of The Tales of Beedle the Bard pages designed by MinaLima, which we never get to see in the films (and which is a shame because they are awesome – in runes!!).
Volume 4: Hogwarts Students discusses the costume design for the main students at Hogwarts but doesn’t have as many fun, behind-the-scenes stories, rather just descriptions of each character and his or her costumes. It does have some cool concept art, though, including this fabulous spread:
But the big question is this: With all the other books about the Harry Potter films out there, do we really need these? Is there any content here that isn’t already covered in the vast behind-the-scenes trove we already have? From the huge amount of film books already out there, to the behind-the-scenes footage and documentaries on the DVDs and Blu-rays, what is new here? The short answer is that I do not have the time or money to determine whether the content is new or exclusive. I began purchasing Harry Potter film books back in 2010 when Harry Potter: Film Wizardry was released, and I am also a proud owner of the 532-page (approximately 82-pound) Harry Potter: Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey. I also began buying some of Jody Revenson’s previous books when they came out – The Creature Vault, The Artifact Vault, etc. – until I quickly realized I just could not keep up and attempt to own all of them.
My recommendation is to go for this 12-volume set if you don’t already own the previously published, aforementioned books. If this is your first foray into behind-the-scenes film books, these are great! They’re gorgeous, and because they break down the different aspects of the films into 12 volumes, they may have more detail than some of the other compendiums out there. For instance, the Hippogriff/Buckbeack coverage is a full six pages, which may be more than in the previous books. If you are a hardcore fan who needs to get EVERYTHING, then, by all means, go for it. However, if you already have some of the older books, there is going to be quite a bit of redundancy across them all, so you may want to opt out.
But let me leave this on a positive note and entice you a little bit more. Each volume comes with an exclusive concept-art print in the back cover, which you can remove and make into one heck of a beautiful gallery wall. And if that weren’t enough, here is the best part: When you get all 12 and line them up on your shelf, the spines will form the Hogwarts crest in lovely gold foil. So these might just be my new favorite Potter film books after all…
Those wanting to ensure these volumes are part of a personal Potter collection can preorder Harry Potter: Film Vault: Volumes 1–4. However, our magical contest to win copies of all four volumes is open worldwide, starting today, September 30, running through October 14 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Enter through the Rafflecopter below. Winners will be contacted via email after October 14, so make sure to check your junk or spam folders just in case our e-owl goes astray. All winners must respond within 24 hours, or another winner may be chosen.
Copies of Harry Potter: Film Vault: Volumes 1–4 were provided by Insight Editions. All opinions belong to the reviewer.