THE ART OF THE BOOK OF LIFE Review: A Stunning Visual Treat

Set to be theatrically released on October 17, 2014, The Book of Life is the highly anticipated product from director / co-writer Jorge Gutierrez and producer Guillermo del Toro. The film’s cast is spearheaded by Zoe Saldana and Channing Tatum. The film has been described as a romance adventure about life, love, and redemption with a Day of the Dead ambiance.

The influence of the art by Mexican culture, from folk art to cinema and everywhere in between, is clearly felt in the film’s art. Full of gorgeous designs and concepts, The Art of the Book of Life is quite literally a visual treat. Jorge Gutierrez has expressed that The Book of Life film will look exactly like the art book. If there’s truth to that guarantee, then The Book of Life is going to look absolutely amazing.

Chapter One: Characters 

As the first official section of the art book, it does a wonderful job of establishing the visual tones as a whole quite well. The film’s distinct visual style is immediately introduced through the very first designs in the art book.

An intricate blend and balance of colors, shapes, sizes, and more, each aspect of every character contributes to them in a real and meaningful way. Each and every character is designed with a clear and loving forethought, further expounded upon by the art book’s many notes.

Characters are designed with thought in how they fit together on screen and how they can be designed to symbolically indicate their relationship, be it anything from enemies to fated lovers. One unique feature to some of the character designs is how some of the male characters are designed with a degree of top-heaviness in mind in order to emphasize their machismo.

Another awesome feature of The Art of the Book of Life is the clear and organized documentation of how the characters were molded into their final designs. Each focus on a specific character is lush with an array of previous designs combined with explanations for the changes that led to the eventual result.



Chapter Two: Making Of

The next section in The Art of the Book of Life covers the general thought process in how various aspects of the film were thought up. One particularly interesting point was the presence and usage of shapes, among other things such as color, to serve as a device for symbolism.

The film features several locales for the movie proper and even the amount of presence of a certain kind of shape is utilized to help give both character and locale and extra level of definition and meaning.

Of course, color still plays a large factor, and the film’s huge color palette becomes blatantly clear through the film’s many locations. All this to say that the love and care that has gone into all the parts of this film’s visual is undeniable. Every detail for the setting and the characters has not been decided without thought, and it clearly shows.

Chapter Three: Locations

The actual settings are discussed in the book’s final section with both general and specific locations being featured throughout. This section of the book features some landscapes of some of the film’s scenery and the attention to color balance, meticulous detail, and thematic consistency is readily apparent. For example, potted plants are strategically placed in various scenes to help balance out the color.

One way in which The Art of the Book of Life explains its various towns and lands is through the tone of their population. Normally background characters are featured with explanations for their designs and their symbolic role for the part of the setting they inhabit. A diverse cast of denizens populate every area, each with thought and purpose into how they breathe further life into the already rich setting.

Some character designs ultimately not used for the final movie are present here as well. They work as an additional feature for the art book’s already rich value. Further, there are still many notes for these unused designs as well, allowing a more complete look into the film’s creation and character as well as also giving life to even these unused creations.

Some of the film’s more specific areas are also featured, which allows for a more personal and intimate understanding of the film. Additionally, it is another cool platform to present the art and visual style.

The art book makes it clear that much attention was paid to building architecture. Each area has its own unique feel that is conveyed through previously touched upon topics such as general shape and color, but also through overall building and town design as well. One particular point is the level of asymmetry in many of the building designs which help to give them a truly hand-built sort of feeling. This section of the art book was by far the longest, but it was not without purpose. It added further depth and character to everything, and every part of it was wonderful.


As soon as the art book is opened, the reader is slammed with the art’s memorably distinct visual style. Furthermore, the art is simply gorgeous. The attention to detail and clear planning that permeates everything from the characters to the setting is only a further merit.

The art aside, the book’s extra information in the making and thought process behind the characters and dozens of personal notes and snippets really makes it an even more enjoyable experience.

With almost 200 pages of beautiful art and designs, The Art of the Book of Life is wonderful for any movie buff or fan of the works of Guillermo del Toro or Jorge Gutierrez. It is a fascinating peek into the highly anticipated film to be released later this October.

4 out of 5 stars

4 out of 5 stars

Cover image via


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Categories: Book Reviews

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2 Comments on “THE ART OF THE BOOK OF LIFE Review: A Stunning Visual Treat”

  1. 10/02/2014 at 9:16 PM #

    That’s truly impressive!!


  1. Best of 2014 Review Wrap-up: Jay | Another Castle - 12/17/2014

    […] THE ART OF THE BOOK OF LIFE Review: A Stunning Visual Treat […]

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