Non-Fiction Reviews


The Colour of Magic: Illustrated Screenplay

(2008) Vadim Jean & Terry Pratchett, Gollancz, 20.00, hrdbk, 256 pp, ISBN 978-0-575-08045-4

Bringing Terry Pratchett's fantastic comic fantasy vision of Discworld to the small screen has been a tremendous undertaking for Vadim Jean. Fortunately he had Terry on hand and equally fortunately he did a rather good job in 2006 with Hogfather. Now it is back to the beginning with the visualization in 2008 of The Colour of Magic using the same team that did Hogfather. Actually we are getting two for one because - at Terry's own suggestion - this also covers events in another Discworld novel The Light Fantastic.

If you are reading this then you have either read Terry's novels and/or seen Vadim's TV films (or TV film parts 1 & 2). So I will not dwell on the plot or the Discworld backdrop or mention that it was a reasonably good portrayal of Discworld with the exception of Twoflower who is not, as suggested by the book, Chinese. (This could cause continuity problems if they make more Discworld films as Two Flowers' country is the focus of some other stories. However Pratchett himself has responded to this criticism in an open letter, where he noted that he had only ever described Twoflower as 'exotically foreign', and hoped that fans would still enjoy the film.) Instead of how good the film was, what you will want to know is whether this book gives the reader added value? Let me answer that straightaway. Yes.

The book's design is quite simply brilliant: there is something visually captivating on virtually every page. Even the normally blank pages before and after the title page have some half-tone drawings. The script is the script but added in are parts of the visual storyboard that directors of high-visual effects often use. Because of this this is not just a work of fiction but the reader gets in part a sense of the making of the film: for this reason I am asking that this be indexed in the non-fiction part of Concat's reviews indices. The photographs themselves are full colour, stunning and printed with great clarity. Occasionally there are double page photographic spreads. What more can I say: it is simply a delightful book over which Pratchett fans will drool (thank goodness it has easy wipe glossy paper). An added bonus is an afterword of a few pages by the producers and also a cast list. Most certainly recommended for all Pratchett and Discworld fans.

Jonathan Cowie


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