Cinemaps: Plotting the Fantasy Worlds of the Silver Screen

Take a stroll through fantasyland, courtesy of Hollywood and Cinemaps! The new book Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies features 35 beautiful full-color maps of your favorite fictional movie worlds that will help you relive so many great stories, from 1933's King Kong through modern classics like Mad Max: Fury Road and Guardians of the Galaxy. Artist Andrew DeGraff illustrates the geography, the path of the plot, and the mood of each adventure, accompanied by A. D. Jameson's essay's on each film. Neatorama is pleased to give you a close look at some of these maps, with exclusive commentary by the artist.  

Cinemaps artist Andrew DeGraff tells us what went through his mind as he designed these gorgeous maps.

Jurassic Park

I love painting islands, especially when it comes to movie maps. Jurassic Park's Isla Nublar had sort of a tricky aspect to it though. Shot on Kawai'i, the Jungle feels dense, almost claustrophobic. That's great for hiding animatronic T-Rex's, but tricky when you want to show characters running around on the forest floor. Fortunately, I had dealt with this a bit in my Predator map and it really just takes some well-planned forest clearing and trying to make sure when characters do move behind some trees, their arrow doesn't get lost. The other problem was the Visitors Center - I was totally tempted to get into the interior. The rotating theater, the lab, the cafe, but that would have meant radically enlarging the Visitors Center, and the island would have lost a bit of its isolated, pristine feel. Color wise I was really trying to find a scheme that felt slightly twilight-y: not bright sunlight, but not the dark of night either. I wanted the piece to have a taste of that foreboding feel that happens during the initial tour before the storm: a little overcast and grey. While Hammond wants the island to be a vacation spot, I wanted the viewer to get a feel of something lovely and verdant, but with an edge.  

Princess Bride

For The Princess Bride, I basically broke it down into three worlds. One world is the Grandfather and the Grandson reading and imagining the film, which is the bright blue that frames all the action. The other two are of course those mortal enemies: Florin in light blue, Guilder in light red. The tones for this map were intentionally low impact. There's some very fun set design and lovely locations in the film, but the movie's all about the characters which are larger than life (some more than others). I really wanted them to stand out. All in all, it's a marvelously simple movie. Set in a lovely English and Irish landscape of rolling hills and fields, the film has a warmth and comfort to it. It does a great job creating that nostalgic storybook "default setting" feel, and playing off those expectations with humor. What struck me was how refreshing it was to map a movie built completely on great writing and performance. So often the films in sci-fi and fantasy - even the comedies - can be almost weighed down by production design. Now, I love all that design, but the dynamic of Princess Bride is so wonderfully airy and light and I tried to capture that feel in the map.

The Wizard of Oz

I never had cable as a kid, and since I was only allowed an hour of TV per week I wasn't one of those kids who grew up on The Wizard of Oz. When I eventually watched the whole movie in college I didn't have any preconceived notions about it, and just found it to be a completely, totally, gleefully insane movie. It is a totally singular piece of art. It's worthy of obsession. And now I'm a little obsessed. So, while it's a film I've come to adore, it was a bananas movie to map. Much of the scenery is painted backdrops, and much of the matte painting and special effects shots seem to have little bearing on each other. For instance, look at the witch's castle when she leaves on her broom to write "Surrender Dorothy" and then look at it when the Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man approach it, and you'll have a hard time reconciling the two. Most of mapping the film meant trying to tie together soundstages into a cohesive world - very fun, and strangely tricky.

The full book also includes maps from The Shining, Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Fargo, Pulp Fiction, and even The Breakfast Club, among others. Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies is now available in both hardcover and ebook at Quirk Books. It would make a great Christmas gift for any fantasy fan or movie buff.   

Special thanks to Andrew DeGraff for the images and commentary.

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