Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Guillermo’s Labyrinth

with 2 comments

Daniel Zalewski’s recent New Yorker piece on Guillermo del Toro, director of Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy movies, is the most engaging profile I’ve read of any filmmaker in a long time. Much of this is due to the fact that del Toro himself is such an engaging character: enthusiastic and overweight, he’s part auteur and part fanboy, living in a house packed with ghouls and monsters, including many of the maquettes from his own movies. And the article itself is equally packed with insights into the creative process. On creature design:

Del Toro thinks that monsters should appear transformed when viewed from a fresh angle, lest the audience lose a sense of awe. Defining silhouettes is the first step in good monster design, he said. “Then you start playing with movement. The next element of design in color. And then finally—finally—comes detail. A lot of people go the other way, and just pile up a lot of detail.”

On Ray Harryhausen:

“He used to say, ‘Whenever you think of a creature, think of a lion—how a lion can be absolutely malignant or benign, majestic, depending on what it’s doing. If your creature cannot be in repose, then it’s a bad design.'”

And in an aside that might double as del Toro’s personal philosophy:

“In emotional genres, you cannot advocate good taste as an argument.”

Reading this article makes me freshly mourn the fact that del Toro won’t be directing The Hobbit. I like Peter Jackson well enough, but part of me feels that if del Toro had been allowed to apply his practical, physical approach to such a famous property—much as Christopher Nolan did with the effects in Inception—the history of popular filmmaking might have been different. As it stands, I can only hope that Universal gives the green light to del Toro’s adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness, a prospect that fills me with equal parts joy and eldritch terror. Judging from what I’ve heard so far, it sounds like del Toro is planning to make the monster movie to end all monster movies. Let’s all hope that he gets the chance.

2 Responses

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  1. I haven’t seen one movie of the greatest directors…

    My sister has gone on (and on) about Akira)….

    They sound intimidating.

    There’s much to learn but if one were to study them too hard one might lose one’s own style, wouldn’t one?

    And on top of that, I personally think it’s something else that creates(not you)… (oh, I meant one)….

    Glenfin y'all

    February 12, 2011 at 11:28 pm

  2. You’ve seen a lot of Kubrick, though, right? That’s a great start!

    nevalalee

    February 13, 2011 at 6:42 pm


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