Monthly Inspiration: Guillermo del Toro

05Jul12

Monthly Inspiration is a new blog series that’s about what inspires me; filmmakers, styles, actors, scripts… each month, I’ll cover one new piece of inspiration. Hopefully I can turn you on to something that will inspire you as well.

First, let me apologize for being late with this months inspiration post. Everything has been pretty hectic with moving across the country (more about that in another post). But, without further ado, for this months inspiration I have chosen to keep going down my list of favorite directors and go with Guillermo del Toro (imdb.com). Del Toro has directed such films as Hell Boy (2004) (imdb.com), The Devil’s Backbone (2001) (imdb.com), and Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) (imdb.com). I love his work for more than just the cinematic escape they give me. I love them for the depth of the story, the stunning character design, and the breadth of genres and styles that he crosses.

The Stories

Some of my all time favorite stories are those that involve fantastical environments and situations that pit good vs. evil (call me old-fashioned). But, Guillermo del Toro’s stories go far beyond the standard good/evil, white/black scenarios.
Take Hellboy, for example; you have the standard good/evil routine, but you add a whole other dimension by having a “good” main character that is genetically designed to be villainous. This creates another level that the audience can respond to. And by having entire films centered around outcast, loner, non-typical characters, del Toro has developed a storytelling style that both intrigues the viewer enough to want more, and creates a sense of panic in not knowing what the heroes are going to do.

The Art

Watch any of Guillermo del Toro’s films, whether live action or animated, and you’ll get where I’m coming from with this. Two words: Ohmyfucking God! The landscapes, the character design, the effects, the colors, the costumes. Every single element in del Toro’s films is stunning and deliberate. In 2007 Pan’s Labyrinth won the award for both Best Art Direction (Eugenio Caballero) and Best Make-up (David Marti & Montse Ribe); and in 2009 Hellboy II: The Golden Army (imdb.com).
I have yet to see a film from del Toro that didn’t have an amazing amount of set decoration, make-up, and special effects that are truly one of a kind. I recently watched Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) (imdb.com) and the whole time I was thinking, “This is something straight out of Guillermo del Toro’s head.” While the creatures and effects in SWatH seemed to be like del Toro’s work, they weren’t. And you could tell. But, it’s obvious that Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, and all of del Toro’s films were an obvious inspiration.

The Breadth

Guillermo del Toro’s list of credits stretches far beyond live action, effects driven, fantasy and horror films. He has produced, written, and directed everything from short films, to animated features, and video games. He’s even given his voice to some of the creatures in both his live action and animated works. He’s worked in the special effects make-up department. And he’s appeared in countless interviews describing what it takes to make effects driven films. He’s did the stunt choreography for Hellboy; and was tapped as a creative consultant for Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) (imdb.com). I am simply awed by the amount of creativity and skill of this man.

What’s coming next?
Right now del Toro is working with ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) on Pacific Rim (2013) (imdb.com). Synopsis: “When an alien attack threatens the Earth’s existence, giant robots piloted by humans are deployed to fight off the menace.” I am so unbelievably excited for this film to come out. It’s a del Toro film, ILM is working on it, and it’s basically a live action Gundam movie. It’s going to be good.

 

 

 

Between the amount of things he does, his one-of-a-kind effects style, and the stunning way he pulls every piece of art direction together, Guillermo del Toro is easily one of my all time favorite filmmakers. Last month I praised Akira Kurosawa (see the post here) for being able to inspire me without the need for effects. This month, I’m praising del Toro for the exact opposite reason. The way he uses effects to his advantage to tell amazing stories that are full of believable, fantastical creatures is awe striking. He’s only 48, and he’s one of the greats. I can’t wait to see what else Guillermo del Toro pulls out of his sleeves in the future.

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