How the Grinch Stole Hollywood: The Making of the Movie

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9780375806292: How the Grinch Stole Hollywood: The Making of the Movie

From the sets to the costumes to the delightfully wacky makeup, from the sketchbook to the storyboards to the production shots, here is a detailed look at the art and the ingenuity that went into the making of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, director Ron Howard's and Imagine Entertainment's feature movie adaptation of the Dr. Seuss holiday classic.

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Review:

With a sharp eye for detail, good photos, and oodles of inside information, Andy Lipschultz has produced an exemplary book on the making of the live-action film of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.The transformation of Seuss's fanciful illustrations into physical reality (and the challenge of competing with Chuck Jones's great cartoon version) is largely a feat of makeup, special effects, and design, and a book is the perfect medium for explicating such magic. In chapters with lively, entertaining titles (the one on costume design is called "Laugh Now, But Wait Until It's Selling on Melrose Avenue"), Lipschultz delves into the origins and deeper meanings of the zillion props and sets and characters. Five-time Oscar winner Rick Baker's face-engulfing Grinch makeup design looks great on the page, and it's interesting to learn how the contact lenses and artificial snow made Jim Carrey suffer for his art. "We tried painting my face, which would have been very comfortable and given me a lot of leeway, but I looked like someone from the cast of Cats," explains Carrey. The Grinch's Mount Crumpit is revealed as Solitude ski resort near Salt Lake, with twisty Seussian crags added. The Grinch's cave is Carlsbad Caverns with the ramp from the Guggenheim and the bleak spirit of Charles Foster Kane's Xanadu. Like Dr. Seuss himself, the designers were crucially inspired by the architect Antonio Gaudi, and so there are no straight lines in Whoville. Even a pencil must be crooked, and the overall aesthetic was defined as "Blizzard Deco"--every item looks as if it were buried in a snowdrift. Almost all the materials used in the movie were made no later than 1957, when the book was written, stuff like Bakelite. Director Ron Howard consulted George Lucas on how to create an alien world rooted in realism. When the Grinch opens his "General Wholectric" fridge to remove the roast beast, the design evokes the optimistically futuristic spirit of that era.

There are plenty of colorful pictures here, but don't miss the text explaining the in-jokes. When the Grinch burns the Christmas tree, he exclaims, "Oh, the Whomanity!," echoing the radio report of the Hindenburg disaster (to hear the original, get the book-and-CD set We Interrupt This Broadcast: The Events That Stopped Our Lives). When the Grinch, driving a stolen car, narrowly misses a Who baby carriage, it's a reference to the famous scene in Battleship Potemkin. --Tim Appelo

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