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design education and visual communication
authored by chris m hughes

The Greatest Sketchbook Never Used

Friday, 4 December 2009

TASCHEN have just published an amazing artefact - a limited-edition box-set of books about Stanley Kubrick's legendary unmade film 'Napoleon' .

Kubrick's Napoleon

Entitled 'Kubrick's Napoleon - the Greatest Film Never made', this is a giant 10-volume book outlining the whole creative process that would have led up to the film. It includes 100's of scene sketches, a selection of Kubrick’s correspondence (with the likes of Jack Nicholson and Peter O'Toole), costume studies, some 4000 scouting photographs, script drafts and reams of carefully archived notes.

It all adds up to a mindboggling amount of research material on Bonaparte, amassed with the help of dozens of assistants and even an Oxford Napoleon specialist.

As if that wasn't enough, Kubrick’s final draft of the script is reproduced in facsimile, while the other texts are neatly packaged into one volume, separate from the visual material. The books are presented inside a carved-out reproduction of a Napoleon history book, and the design was done by French design studio M/M, who have worked with Vogue Paris, Interview, and Purple Fashion and collaborated with the likes of Bjork and Madonna.

Apparently purchasing the book also entitles you to access an online database of 17,000slides and scouting images which Kubrick collected and archived.

Unfortunately there are only 1000 copies, each tagged at a whopping £450.

Beyond the book design, what's interesting from a graphic design perspective is the artefact itself - a perfect example of how research and an accumulation of information is vital to any creative process. This allows an artist or designer to deconstruct the brief, and assemble visual and textual material that can be organised, studied and decoded into conceptual ideas.

This sort of work is an integral part of our teaching program in Graphic Design at Telford, and a sketchbook submission is mandatory as part of a design project.

It would be great if we had the budget to purchase a copy for the library, but we'd need an armed guard to keep watch over it.


More info:
Kubrick's Napoleon Screenplay (pdf)
Buy it at Amazon.
Taschen Books - Kubrick's Napoleon.