‘Peter Jackson’ by Alfio Leotta reviewed

❉  We check out  the comprehensive study of the acclaimed and influential film-maker’s body of work.

From independent film maker to blockbuster dynamo, Peter Jackson’s career is full of interesting and sometimes challenging projects.  Jackson has inspired and become a figurehead for many film makers and story tellers that aspire to receive just a fraction of this amazing man’s success.

This Bloomsbury book is a fascinating read, appealing to both those who love this film makers creations as well as academics who like investigating motivation, creative influences and stylistic inspiration.

Leotta writes in an accessible and engaging way and has a fresh and breezy style that pulls you from chapter to chapter, consuming the history of this epic film maker.

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Starting with Jackson’s early start, as a child influenced by the absurd and darkly comical Monty Python and the epic Hollywood fantasy sagas.  Jackson originally wanted to be a special effects developer, but due to lack of opportunities in New Zealand he got a day job and made the films he wanted to see on his clunky Super 8 camera.

It’s not just a rags to riches story.  Jackson’s film history is charted and explained throughout the chapters, it’s explained that Jackson had many setbacks that would have caused many to give up, but he kept on going.

Jackson’s work is examined under a microscope, each project cross referenced to include his inspiration, collaborators along with his creative vision dissected, this is why this book will be a must read for budding film makers.  I’m not an academic or a film maker however found the details of his collaborators and their work fascinating.

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This book raised my awareness that the stories that Jackson tells through his films have the common theme of flawed heroic characters that are tenacious in the most challenging circumstances.  This book parallels many of the filmic character qualities and Jackson’s unrelenting focus to keep working, keep going and keep creating.

I’m a fan of both his schlocky low budget splatter horror comedies and the earlier mainstream work. The trippy Academy Award nominated ‘Heavenly Creatures’  was my initial starting off movie followed by the underrated Michael J Fox movie ‘The Frighteners’, these films are polar opposites in content, however have a similar depth, style and sensitivity.

Recently Jackson has become the go-to guy for the epic fantasy films such as ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’, he can create and control a large cast and multiple strands of storyline and make it accessible, enjoyable and witty.

This book explains everything and more, it’s a must-have addition for any film fan’s book shelf.


❉ ‘Peter Jackson’ by Alfio Leotta is part of the Bloomsbury The Bloomsbury Companions to Contemporary Filmmakers  series, and is out now, RRP £100.00

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