Elstree Studios celebrates 90 years with new book

elstree book‘Elstree Studios: A Celebration of Film and Television’ is a new book chronicling the history of the famous north London studios and MOVIESCOPE has a copy to give away.

Elstree has been home to some of the most memorable moments in cinema history, with films such as Blackmail (Hitchcock’s first ‘Talkie’), The Dam Busters, Get Carter, The Railway Children, The Shining, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Labyrinth, Superman, Saving Private Ryan and more recently, Sherlock Holmes, Paddington and The King’s Speech.

Tom Hooper, the director of The King’s Speech, gives the foreword for the book, highlighting how connected he felt to the history of the studios, and how coming to work on the George Lucas stage motivated him every day of shooting for his latest production, The Danish Girl.

The book covers the entire history of the studios from 1925 to present day, where demand from TV productions such as Strictly Come Dancing, Big Brother and The Voice has eclipsed the more traditional clients in feature film production.

Written by the current chairman of Elstree Studios, Morris Bright and the film historian and writer, Paul Burton; the book nimbly guides the reader through the different ages of Elstree; from the first talkie film, to the arrival of Lucas, Spielberg and Kubrick; the near extinction in the 1980’s and 90’s and its rejuvenation in the last 10 years thanks to the growth and stability of TV production in the UK. Each page contains unit photography and behind the scenes stills from the films that populated the stages over the last 90 years, as well as many stories about the productions themselves from those who made the films.

The falling and rising fortunes of the whole film industry are reflected throughout the book; describing the takeovers, buyouts and amalgamations of the property against the backdrop of the international film and TV industry. One of the most alarming sections of the book details how former boxer and criminal henchman-turned property developer, George Walker, tried to run the studios into the ground so that his company, Brent Walker, could sell off the land.

While a couple of passages of this book feels almost like it is merely cataloguing the productions that rolled through the buildings, it neatly avoids any schmaltz and the most pleasurable moments can be found in the smallest details. Like how a thousand snakes from the set of Raiders of The Lost Ark disappeared and how Hitchcock liked to shoot until 11pm every day. This book would be a welcome addition to the bookshelves of any film history fans.

 

MOVIESCOPE has a copy of this book to give away. All you need to is to answer this question in the comments box below.

Which famous director has a stage named after him at Elstree Studios?

Competition closes at midnight on Monday 2nd November 2015.