David S. Cohen - The Ballad of Rango
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By David S. Cohen
Foreword by Gore Verbinski
Publisher: Insight Editions
Release date:

Unlike any animated feature you’ve seen before, Rango is an utterly unique story from acclaimed director Gore Verbinski, and features the voice of Johnny Depp and other regulars from Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean films. Blending off-beat humor with a Gonzo visual style and the enduring heroic archetypes of the Western, this highly entertaining adventure marks the debut for Verbinski’s production studio, BlindWink, and is the first animated feature from Industrial Light & Magic.

An actor by nature, Rango has developed a habit of trying on different guises while in his lonely cage—his head filled with dreams of being a swashbuckler, a musician, a knight, and many other leading man types. When this hapless reptile wanders into the town of Dirt, he can’t help but play to his audience, assuming the role of the Western hero. Boasting of his gun-slinging prowess to the locals, he inevitably stirs up a hornet’s nest. Soon he finds himself at the center of action, wearing the sheriff’s star and forced to take on the fearsome gunman Rattlesnake Jake.

Rango, like its lead character, is a film that set out one day to find itself and did, to great effect. Illustrated with some of the most vivid and visually creative concept art produced for any animation to date, The Ballad of Rango tells its story like it is.

... beautifully designed ... If you're a fan of the film, then this book is a must.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“For animation fans and movie buffs alike, this will be one to add to your collection .... As the book goes on to discuss everything from story, to music, to the voice work done for the film, those who read it will find a great appreciation for the production behind Rango.  Couple this with getting an up-close visual look at the character and set designs, and this is a very worthwhile read.
“A perfect companion to the film. ... it is loaded with incredible artwork that preceeded the CG images on screen and Cohen’s text goes deep into Verbinski and ILM’s creative process. Regardless of your opinion of the film, the book is an important document of an unusual production. If you loved the film, the book is a must-have.
... so much more than just a great collection of inspired images: Cohen serves up an excellent account of the film’s creation, from its very early concept stage (dating back as far as even before the first Pirates movie) and Paramount’s initial involvement, through ILM being persuaded to jump on for the ride, to the eventual animation process. .... This Ballad Of Rango is simply as good as animation Art Of books get, with thankfully serious and engrossing discussion on the subject by its author, and more than an archive full of really, really great imagery.
Ben Simon, Animated Views