Review: Elysium – The Art of the Film

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On August 9th, 2013, the film Elysium was released in theaters. To those who have yet to see this fantastic movie, it was conceived and directed by Neil Blomkamp, director of the hit, District 9. You can continue to see the appreciation that Neil possesses, in emphasizing a distinction of social class between high and low in this film as well.

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While the upper-class citizens enjoy a life of health and clean society on the space habitat “Elysium”, Earth is ravaged by death and disease with lower-end technology and healthcare. Although it would be wonderful to touch on my thoughts on the movie, John did a review earlier last month.

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Let’s get down to the artbook. Neil teamed-up once again with Phil Ivey and WETA Workshop for the concept art and models of Elysium. In this book, we see all the angles WETA took to capture the essence of what Neil and Phil are trying to capture. And given WETA’s notable capacity for filling out every detail and creating numerous alternatives (especially in Lord of the Rings), we are treated with the various designs and notes from both the team and some of the actors.
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As a graphic designer by trade and an illustrator, I’ve often marveled when concept designers and concept engineers put together so many thumbnails, silhouettes, and even hundreds of versions of a single concept. The endurance and creativity of emptying your conceptual library is astonishing, when you really think of the kind of discipline concept design requires. And WETA has my full respect in that regard.

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Neil and his team have not been the creative force to censor brutality, and this is representative in  some of the designs showcased in the book. Whether it is a concept design of Max’s surgery or Kruger’s accident, you definitely get to see these elements in the book.

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One thing that I’ve seen in most sci-fi concept designs are clean and clear designs. Although this is present in the Elysium section of the artbook, the Earth designs show the gritty, graffiti-heavy, worn elements that I expect of a dystopian society. It is a big contrast to the kind of dystopia we would find in Blade Runner, which is very noir-influenced.

For those typography aficionados, there are two pages dedicated to the various brands designed. It’s got the classic idea that corporations have a heavy hand in dystopian society.

To anyone who loves the Elysium movie, you should definitely add this to your collection or as a coffee table book. For concept designers, definitely pick this up as it is a great reference to draw inspiration from!

  • Dimensions – 12.1 x 10.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Hardcover, 176 pages
  • Full color

You can purchase now on Amazon.

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