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Peter Jackson: From Prince of Splatter to Lord of the Rings Hardcover – April 3, 2004
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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From Publishers Weekly
With a fan's obsessive detailing and a New Zealander's pride in his homegrown subject matter, Pryor paints a straightforward portrait of Lord of the Rings director Jackson, from his beginnings as an 8 mmâ"toting eight-year-old through his hit-and-miss efforts at quirky and comedic gore, to his years directing the beloved fantasy trilogy. On the heels of the final movie's record-tying 11-award win at the Academy Awards, this biography benefits both from its timing and the obvious enthusiasm Pryor brings to the topic. While at times veering into the hyperbolic, it does a fine job of explaining just what sort of character it takes for an unproven, hobbit-like director who rarely left New Zealand to persuade Hollywood to invest an estimated $320 million on a three-film package. The book suffers, however, from the author's obvious lack of access, which contributes to a secondhand characterization of Jackson, whose personality is revealed mostly through scraps from friends and family. In one particularly absurd chapter, Pryor is forced to sneak around the Rings set, Gollum-like, in order to get interesting enough (and barely that) descriptions of the production. Combined with a somewhat provincial New Zealander's perspective, that lack of proximityâ"weakly explained on the jacket as "unauthorized"â"maims what could otherwise have been a fuller portrait.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Inside Flap
This fascinating look at the now celebrated director tells of the inspiration that have led to the making of the three world-famous Lord of the Rings films - and the six other films that preceded them. This unauthorized biography traces the journey of a young movie fanatic, from Sunday afternoons spent fooling around with a camera, through low-budget cult movies, to control of the most ambitious film project ever, on what is probably the best-loved fantasy novel ever written.
This in-depth biography explores the many talents of the young Peter Jackson: the making of Bad Taste; Meet the Feebles; Braindead; Heavenly Creatures; Forgotten Silver; The Frighteners, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The story behind the Rings - which tells how Jackson got the rights to make the film and the permission and funding to make three films rather than collapsing the story into just one or two films, interviews, and other behind the scenes material from the making of the landmark films. Past and future - in which the author considers Jackson's achievements and possible future - including his remake of King Kong.
From casts of zombies, traumatised puppets and murderous teenagers, to deal-making in Hollywood, this book is about following one's visions wherever they might lead.
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Peter Jackson is best known for co-writing and directing hit movie trilogy "The Lord of the Rings." But he started off as a young Kiwi boy experimenting with a camera, and later getting together with his buddies to film the low-budget horror/SF-comedy "Bad Taste." An understated indie career led to the brilliant docudrama "Heavenly Creatures," which kick-started the career of star Kate Winslet. And from then on, he started the sprawling adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's beloved epic fantasy, which has been embraced as a worldwide phenomena on par with "Star Wars."
Peter Jackson (who reportedly condemns this biography) is a fascinating figure in modern filmmaking. Unfortunately, since this biography is unauthorized and unapproved, Pryor has to stitch together just about every magazine article or press release ever written about Jackson. It's very unsatisfying since all of it has been said before. And the first time around, it didn't sound so.... well, smarmy.
Pryor paints Jackson in extreme colors, apparently so his adoration won't seem "fannish." But it doesn't make Jackson seem like a three-dimensional person. It makes him seem either like a saintly genius, or a creep. His personal life, friendships and interactions with actors aren't really dealt with, which makes him seem a lot more distant than he is. At least there's no dirt-dishing -- Jackson seems to have led a pretty much blameless life.
Pryor's writing style leaves something to be desired. He misspells some of Tolkien's words like "uruk-hai" (which he spells "urak-hai"). And Pryor uses overwritten gushing to cover up the book's biggest flaw: He doesn't know what Jackson is like. Pryor only describes his behavior, his words, and what other say about him -- the man himself remains an enigma at the book's end.
The saving grace of "Peter Jackson" is how it shows off the impact Jackson has had on his native New Zealand, both as a filmmaker and as a worldwide celebrity. However, this can't gloss over the opportunistic, slightly sneering tone that pervades Pryor's book. If you like Jackson -- as a director and a person -- it will make you squirm.
Fans of Peter Jackson may be hungry for more info on this beloved director. But you're better off waiting for the official (and approved) biography by Brian Sibley. Ian Pryor's "Peter Jackson: From Prince of Splatter to Lord of the Rings" has the slippery feeling of a rushed-to-print biography to cash in a filmmaker's fame.
I find that statement interesting because the book discusses at great length the relationship between the author and Jackson. At various points in Jackson's early movies, the author actually helped out on his movies.
As to the un-authorized biography question, the author was given access to write the book on all Jackson films up to the Lord of the Rings. I just can't imagine how you could read this book and come to the conclusion that the author didn't even know Jackson.
As for my opinion, I'm often facinated by the early careers of men like Jackson. There's already a ridiculous amount of info out there on Lord of the Rings, but this book gives you a peek at Jackson's beginnings, and I enjoyed that very much.
If you're buy this book for some kind of Rings Insider, go elsewhere. If you want to see Jackson before his epic, this book is for you.