Director’s Chair Introduction: Guillermo Del Toro

by Tony Cogan · February 5, 2018 · Uncategorized · No Comments

Hello everyone, it’s time to announce the director that will be featured for this month’s Director’s Chair and, seeing how there is a lot of buzz around him due to awards season, I thought now would be the right time to cover the films of Guillermo Del Toro.

Now the films of Del Toro run in a wide variety of tones, styles and languages, but there are always consistent elements within all films, not only aesthetic elements such as Del Toro’s use of clockwork, but also thematic elements such as the nature of monsters and childhood innocence. Del Toro has mostly explored these films in his Spanish language films, right from the start with Cronos, he made a vampire film where the vampire is a kindly grandfather disgusted with what he has to do to survive, making the real monster a businessman who wants to become a vampire for personal gain. This trend continued in his two films related to the Spanish Civil War. First there was The Devil’s Backbone which was a ghost story told from the point of view of a war orphan, but the peak of this style was in Pan’s Labyrinth. Now, before The Shape of Water, it was pretty clear that Pan’s Labyrinth was Del Toro’s masterpiece. A beautiful, dark fairy tale showing the loss of innocence created as a result of war, with the fairy tale imagery forming a solid backbone. It’s also here where Del Toro’s penchant for seeing men as the real monsters came to the forefront. Even with creatures as horrifying as the Pale Man, there was no monster in Pan’s Labyrinth as terrifying as Captain Vidal, who is one of the poster boys for toxic masculinity. It’s also here where Del Toro’s creativity comes to the forefront. The designs of all the creatures in Pan’s Labyrinth are gorgeous and horrifying in equal measure, coming right from Del Toro’s mind, the notebooks he wrote comprising all of his designs being a work of art in and of itself.

Del Toro continues this creativity when he works in America. After a disastrous experience on Mimic, due to the Weinstein’s, Del Toro became very selective of his projects, taking on Blade 2 due to his love of comics and to showcase his creativity in a mainstream setting, seen with the Reapers. Del Toro continued this with the Hellboy films, Del Toro being a massive fan of the comics and bringing this passion to the film in every way, even turning down offers to direct some of the Harry Potter films due to his love of Hellboy, with Hellboy 2 being the most in line with Del Toro’s creative sensibilities, especially the way the myths of old are dying out in the film. After the Hellboy films, Del Toro was hired to turn The Hobbit into a film series, but after working on the film for a few years, production issues led to Del Toro leaving the film, with Peter Jackson taking over. After that, Del Toro went onto making films for his inner child, describing Pacific Rim as being made for his inner 13 year old boy, and seeing videos of Del Toro on set and at the Gundam Museum, you can see his glee over getting to play with a Kaiju film. Crimson Peak meanwhile, which has some of the best production design in a Del Toro film, he described as being made for his inner 13 year old girl, with the film taking the form of a gothic romance, with some horror elements. The Shape of Water meanwhile, partly came out through his love of Creature From the Black Lagoon and a failed pitch to remake the film for Universal. Del Toro took his ideas and made, in his words, his first truly adult film, saying that he’s speaking of concerns he has as an adult that he didn’t have as a kid. Now I haven’t seen The Shape of Water since it’s not got a wide UK release yet, but I am eagerly awaiting the film to see what Del Toro does with those ideas.

The creativity of Del Toro also comes about through his inspirations in all forms of entertainment. From the classic horror stories and films to Anime, Del Toro’s inspirations are as varied as his films, with Del Toro collecting most of his inspirations in what he calls the Bleak House, filled with artwork, books and statues, some of which have been featured in museum exhibits dedicated to Del Toro. This creativity extends to other works, most notably the opening sequence he did for The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror, that sequence having dozens of references to works which have inspired Del Toro in the past.

Now, as usual, I’m looking for any pieces you’ve done of the films of Guillermo Del Toro, in any format, be it review, podcast, whatever. If you want a reminder on the films of Del Toro, there’s a list below.

  • Cronos
  • Mimic
  • The Devil’s Backbone
  • Blade 2
  • Hellboy
  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
  • Pacific Rim
  • Crimson Peak
  • The Shape of Water

Thanks a lot for reading this, and I look forward to seeing whatever you send me.

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