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I Have a Dream

I Have a Dream - Martin Luther King Jr., Kadir Nelson Nelson took on an ambitious project, and made some fine choices. The cinematic techniques are what strikes me most. As I read I moved back and forth between establishing wide shots, medium range shots, and close-ups. Some of the close ups and wide shots are extreme. The cover and the pages with the line "From every mountainside, let freedom ring!" are extreme close ups. Extreme close up has two effects visually. 1. It magnifies the value and intensity of the person being represented (obvous), and 2. It creates a perceptual focus where we tend to block out peripheral vision and be completely drawn into a narrower frame, where we should feel invited to 'come closer' or feel like we have been drawn in too close for comfort. Nelson's style and palette encourage more the former (invited). One of the great aspects of his art is how he generously uses the full double page spread to emphasize either expanse or intense closeness. The hyper-realism of his close ups and mid shots is balanced by the impressionistic style he uses on the wide shots with backgrounds. The shift to a 'sequential frames' sequence for the part where King names each mountain range or mountain is an interesting break from the expansive doubles, and changes the pace of the read-aloud. I believe Nelson understood what he was doing, and met the challenge. Illustrating King's speech was a great way for someone who can do both writing and pictures to allow full focus on matching the pictures to an already known powerful text. There is a balance of symmetrical and complementary illustrations, and nothing at work here to provide counterpoint or deconstruction.

The entire text of MLK, Jr.'s speech is included as an afterword, along with the audio CD with a voice recording. In 2012 a CD is a strange choice for a publisher to make. Now that more people are using wireless internet to access their music collections, the CD in the book feels almost like one of those old vinyl inserts you used to get in a book or magazine back in the 1970s, when the shift had already gone to cassette tapes. What is the new best way today for an author using source material to help direct people to that source material, a way that doesn't scream '20 years ago'?