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The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece by Tom Hanks


Tom Hanks, as a film star, is a household name. The man is an incredible talent and has an ability to portray a huge range of characters with confidence and authenticity. So it was with some trepidation that this book came through. Can someone with so much depth and talent in one area really meet the literary expectations of readers worldwide. Yes. It seems he really is one of those frustrating people that has the ability to cross the divide from acting to writing with an ability to present prose with composure, clarity, and cohesion.


To be fair, this isn’t Hanks’ first attempt at writing. In 2017 he released Uncommon Type, a selection of short stories that had some absolute crackers amongst some pretty ordinary writing. The results are similar here too. Some elements are beautifully cinematic in their approach - particularly characterisation and setting, which others meander along on the current of the narrative. Grammatically there are some interesting moments too. It seems the editors weren’t too fussy when it comes to things like run-on sentences and overly florid language.


But Hanks is a likeable writer. Writing about the film industry gives him status as a writer. He knows the business, and it really comes through in his style. If the adage is to ‘write what you know’, then he’s nailed it. The story follows the (mis)adventures of a motion picture being made by the full cast of characters one expects to find in the industry. From the uptight director to the fastidious, albeit frustrating diva-esque, lead actors.


Some preamble at the start, establishing context, creating setting et cetera et cetera, harps back to a bygone era of novel writing. Think the first few chapters of any ‘classic’ you wish to consider and it’s much the same here. A fair swag of this could be cut and simply begin with the action sequences. In this way, the novel is probably a few chapters too long because once the story kicks in, there is a really engaging plot unearthed.


Along the way, a series of comics are included to assist in the preparation and telling of the film being created. It’s an interesting take on the novel format and sure to entertain those interested in the skills of storyboarding, storytelling, and the film industry.


The film being produced is “Knightshade: The Lathe of Firefall”and it really is the intricacies of filmmaking that are brought to the fore here. There isn’t a huge amount of overarching storyline, more just the day-to-day existence of life on set and the business of filmmaking. Yet, it does hold the audience throughout. It seems like Hanks may have learned a thing or two from some of his filmmaking enterprises, particularly those that have little in terms of flashiness and excitement but still manage to keep the attention of those watching.


Overall, a really great holiday read. Its straightforward language and humour make it a page-turner, just don’t expect the bells and whistles of truly great plot driven narratives.


Reviewer: Chris Reed

Heinemann Press

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