As one of the hottest distributors of arthouse films, A24 has brought us movies that change the way we see family, other cultures, and in the case of critical TV darling “Euphoria,” growing up. And in the limited-edition companion books and soundtracks they’ve published in recent years, they’ve also changed the way we look at how the stories told in their films and shows can be translated to the printed page. Nowhere have they done this more powerfully than in this 5th anniversary deluxe box set for the grueling 2016 coming-of-age film “Moonlight.”
Designed by Perron-Roettinger and produced by our good friends at Enpointe [projects / website], this piece, though technically a release of the “Moonlight” soundtrack, is a whole lot more than that. Let’s start with the finger-pleasing clamshell case – a Mustard Yellow LBS cloth wrap featuring 2-tone illustrations of the characters printed Offset CMYK.
Nestled inside: a gorgeous book with an Ecological Fibers Brillianta cloth spine and back cover, complete with Hot Foil stamping; the front cover features a beautiful image of the sea printed CMYK on Sappi McCoy Silk. [PaperSpecs PRO members: Get the Swatchbook!]
Opening it reveals a holder pocket for the 3 LPs on the inside front cover, including a die-cut thumb notch for easy use. The single bit of knocked out text here – “Who is you, Chiron” – sums up the plot of the film, which shows us the central character at 3 different times in his life: first as a child, then an adolescent, and finally as a young adult. This is important to keep in mind to appreciate what comes next.
The right-hand section of the book opens outward, revealing the whole piece to be 3 separate sections. The right 2 are Smyth-sewn book blocks with exposed spines that have been taped into the piece. Their covers, when closed, make up a photograph of the main character’s bare back, emphasizing his vulnerability – the hue of the image tying nicely into the Blue of the vinyl sleeve opposite.
It is when you open both book blocks side by side, each opening in opposite directions – like gatefolds, that you begin to see how clever, and moving, this book truly is. The left block opens to reveal a short page titled “I. Little” with a full-page image of the character as a child peeking out from behind it. The right one also boasts a short page, this one labeled “II. Chiron,” with the character, now an adolescent, peeking out from behind.
Paging through these 2 books side by side recreates the theme of the movie: What happened to Chiron in his childhood shaped who he became as a teen and a young adult. If anything, the print piece might be even more powerful than the film as we can see his past and present taking place at the same time.
All these images were enhanced by the UV printing on Sappi McCoy Silk using a 250-line screen for sharper, cleaner images. And because both books are Smyth sewn, they can lay open flat next to each other. Another nice touch is the inclusion of see-through images printed on translucent vinyl. These behave like the print equivalent of flashbacks in a film and were printed CMYK over Opaque White ink.
Beautiful portraits and thumbnail scenes from the film run throughout. We also get the occasional liner notes and some sheet music, rare reminders that this box set is actually meant to be a celebration of the soundtrack.
This combination of well-thought-out design, high production values, and the use of appropriate binding techniques, prove that print isn’t just an alternative to film – it can actually enhance our appreciation of it, allowing us to hold on to the emotions it stirs up inside us long after the final credits have rolled.
The ‘Moonlight’ Box Set can be ordered directly from A24 here.
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