Cinema is magic, full of visual trickery and awe-inspiring effects that allow us to lose ourselves momentarily in an altered reality. Pamela Glintenkamp’s Industrial Light & Magic: The Art of Innovation reaches behind the scenes of George Lucas’s famed visual effects company to reveal the magicians behind ILM’s iconic films. This oral history is supplemented by over 400 breathtaking images and exclusive interviews with the filmmakers, artists, technicians, past and present, as well as Lucas himself, discussing their work, vision, and paving the way for the effects industry.
Industrial Light & Magic is the first extensive documentation of the prestigious company’s groundbreaking works over the past 16 years. Director Jon Favreau, who authored the foreword, praises Lucas’s vast achievements, yet hones in on “the visual effects supervisors, artists, coordinators, animators, producers, and technicians,” acknowledging that “filmmakers provide vision, challenges, and, hopefully, inspiration. But it falls upon the magic elves to bake the cookies.” In the pages that follow, the reader is offered a rare glimpse into the creative process, led through the challenges that accompanied each film by the respective creative team. Certainly, Glintenkamp pays homage to ILM’s cinematic landmarks – the Star Wars saga, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones series, and more. And there is, so much more. The iconic image from E.T. of the flying bicycle against the moon, a deconstruction of Jim Carrey’s eye-popping cartoonish character in The Mask, the seamless blending of new and archival footage to achieve historical validity in Forrest Gump, the computerized skeletal creation in The Mummy, complete with dried bits of flesh and hanging sinew that swung realistically with every movement, explanations behind the fantastical productions of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Avatar…We could be here awhile.
This retrospective is a visual delight, intriguing for film buffs of any sort, or simply all who appreciate innovation and creative genius. Industrial Light & Magic shows us the secrets behind our beloved films and pays respect to the minds that make it all happen. Heading into its fourth decade, the multiple-Academy Award-winning ILM shows no signs of slowing, instead pushing forward with Lucas’s mantra in mind – “ILM was designed to do the impossible.”
Industrial Light & Magic is available through Abrams.
Written by Caroline Pham