Author: Ang Lee & James Schamus | Page Count: 144
"The film is not crafted in the realistic style, as my earlier films have been, but the emotions it conveys are real."
Illustrated with more than 80 full colour photographs, this lavish companion book includes the entire screenplay of the film, alongside short essays and commentaries about the production from director Ang Lee and his screenwriter James Schamus. There's also some words from cast and crew. Scholars David Bordwell and Richard Corliss give an introduction and some brief history lessons throughout. The text gives insights into what went on behind the scenes; it exposes the tragedies that dogged the production and the triumphs that elevated it but there isn't enough content to warrant the hefty price tag attached. Half of the introduction is reprint from elsewhere. The other half drifts off to become an appreciation of Hong Kong cinema as a whole, and while that was certainly fascinating it begs the question why it was included at all. Smells like filler.
It's hard to score this one. Let's say you liked the film and you find screenplays interesting. Lets also imagine behind the scenes photos excite, you find small snippets of info from cast and crew insightful and you can afford to pay $32.95 for something that when distilled down to only text would fill about six A4 pages (that’s not counting the actual screenplay), then I guess you could give it a try.
The two most interesting things I learned was that Chow Yun-Fat wasn't Lee's first choice to play Li Mu Bai and only one of the cast spoke any mainland Mandarin that the director demanded. I just saved you money.
1 pretty but hollow volume out of 5