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Note: This article is also included in our year-end creative wisdom round-up. Equipped as a child with a prodigious imagination and ferocious curiosity, del Toro tore through a book a day, crafted plastic internal organ facsimiles with his brother, taught himself to draw at age seven and sold color-penciled comic booklets to family members.
In his teens, del Toro worked next door to a morgue, consumed comics by the tens of thousands and watched hundreds of monster flicks at the local cinema. Del Toro honed his eye for the gory detail by designing makeup and effects for his Necropia company before directing his own Spanish language horror films including Cronos and the haunted orphanage thriller The Devils Backbone.
When Hollywood came calling, del Toro populated two Hellboy movies with extraordinarily freakish villains. A dry spell followed. Peter Jackson hired del Toro to direct The Hobbit but decided ultimately to helm the franchise himself.
Last summer del Toro returned to form with the visually bruising monster-versus-robot slamfest Pacific Rim. Further down the road: a new Pinocchio. Know What Came Before, Part 1 In order to have a voice you have to reach inside you and be completely yourself; but, to paraphrase Stephen King, all the songs have been sung.
All of that starts with biological curiosity. The most intimate betrayal of every human being starts in her body or his body. We are almost like spirits or minds that are being hosted in a bag of meat that is treacherous. Biology as horror is an anxiety that comes with modernity. Their cosmology had to do with the skies and dawn and death, but our cosmology right now is colon cancer, lung cancer—these are the demons we really fear. This is the language we speak now and therefore biology is at the same time fascinating and incredibly horrifying.
When you go back to horror of the s and the s, you track that back to the pulp magazines, then you trace those back to Victorian horror, then you go back to the origins of Gothic romance and keep going back to the tales that become folklore. He can talk about Alan Ladd or Robert Mitchum as fluently as if he were talking about a cousin or an uncle.
Scorsese, a huge student of film, grew up very fragile in a really tough neighborhood so he was definitely vetted by a lot of life influences. These are strange experiences but they shape who you are.
They are connected not to a pop reference archive but to a live archive and cultural archive that goes deep. You need to feel the pain, or the absence, or the presence of something evil or whatever it is, and then you need to articulate that through film or novels or painting or whatever craft is available to you. Think Visually I find things in my notebook—things that I have a hard time explaining without an elaborate drawing.
He had eyes and a nose and a mouth. I copied that in my notebook and then I erased the face and sent it back to them. There was no way I could have verbalized why it was going to work unless I sketched it but I knew it was going to work.
I was really afraid of manta rays when I was growing up as a kid and when you flop a manta ray on its back, it has the little little mouth and the two little nostril-like openings. They were so creepy. Look at a lion. Look at a shark. It becomes impossible to admire or love or be in awe of because so much has accumulated. You need to be selective. You carry them with you and consult them and thieve from yourself. In a sketch book you can distill your compulsions, because I believe every artist is just the sum of his or her compulsions.
Keeping a catalog of those obsessions through the years, you steal from someone who is almost electrically alive with those same compulsions at age That makes the dialogue very fluid. I revisit the books before every project. The rule I start with is that red should be used very very pointedly. You need to be careful about what it means. These are little things you can codify in a painterly way in movies. Nobody needs to notice, but you know. The Gill Man in Creature from the Black Lagoon is, you could argue, sort of a mixture of Beauty and the Beast and King Kong with a touch of this and that, but the creature swimming underneath Miss Adams in her white suit is one of the sexiest and most beautiful moments in film history.
It rises above and beyond anything else in the movie. I think of failure as latent success. Any experience in life is neutral. You can tint it as a piece of learning or you tint it as a piece of misinformation. Now, is it a heartache? Oh yeah. But you learn from it. That kind of success has a horrible exchange rate of currency.
Find Yourself in the Story We tell stories because we have a hollow place in our heart. You fill it by finding yourself in the stories you tell. They can be viewed by 10 people, or they can be viewed by 10 million people.
But how you end up filing that in your heart is very important. A former Chicagoan, Hugh also walks his Afghan Hound many times a day and writes twisted pop songs.
Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions
Note: This article is also included in our year-end creative wisdom round-up. Equipped as a child with a prodigious imagination and ferocious curiosity, del Toro tore through a book a day, crafted plastic internal organ facsimiles with his brother, taught himself to draw at age seven and sold color-penciled comic booklets to family members. In his teens, del Toro worked next door to a morgue, consumed comics by the tens of thousands and watched hundreds of monster flicks at the local cinema. Del Toro honed his eye for the gory detail by designing makeup and effects for his Necropia company before directing his own Spanish language horror films including Cronos and the haunted orphanage thriller The Devils Backbone. When Hollywood came calling, del Toro populated two Hellboy movies with extraordinarily freakish villains. A dry spell followed.
Guillermo del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions,
Sep 28, Mark rated it it was amazing Cabinet of Curiosities: A cabinet of curiosities was an encyclopedic collection in Renaissance Europe of types of objects whose categorial boundaries were yet to be defined. I hoped that one day I would visit myself, even though I live in the UK. Alas, it has never happened. However, I was fascinated by the pictures of all the items and the rooms. There was such a variety, things hidden away in every corner. I would spend hours looking over the pictures. The reason for raising this here is that this book reminds me very much of that mansion.
Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’
Guillermo del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities