Tuesday, March 11, 2008

With a name like Guillermo, how could you go wrong?

To say that Guillermo del Toro's masterpiece "Pan's Labyrinth" is near and dear to del Toro's heart might just be an understatement. Del Toro directed, wrote, and produced the Spanish film. Interested in the Spanish Civil War, "Pan's Labyrinth" was del Toro's second film (after "The Devil's Backbone") that was based around that setting. The film deals with a little girl, Ofelia, confronting her cold and fascist step-father, Captain Vidal. Along the way, Ofelia gets guidance from a mystical Faun who tells her that she is the princess of the moon and that she must complete tasks that involve mythology and fairy tale elements, to return to her rightful position as princess. "For me, fascism is a representation of the ultimate horror and it is, in this sense, an ideal concept through which to tell a fairy tale aimed at adults." Guillermo has said. And that's what he did; del Toro presented his harsh take on fascism, which was instilled by him when he was just a boy and Spaniards sought refuge in his homeland Mexico, by weaving in a central story that is very much a dark fairy tale. Del Toro admits that "(he) has been fascinated by fairy tales and the mechanics at work in them since (his) early childhood."
To create the fairy tale, del Toro wove in his knowledge of mythology by incorporating such creatures as fairies to help Ofelia on her journey to save herself from her evil step-father. Guillermo created such creatures as a Faun that acts as a satyr to guide Ofelia on her journey, a man eating monster that will truly give viewers nightmares, and even a large toad. With these whimsical elements, del Toro holds the viewer's attention. Even the backdrops to the scenes themselves are truly haunting, from the Spanish labyrinth to the woods in the back of Ofelia's house; del Toro has it all planned out, and it works in taking the audience's breaths away. Added with the very precise facts on the Spanish Civil War, del Toro creates a story both factual and out of this world, and he manages to do so without leaving the audience confused.
Guillermo del Toro's hallmarks in his movies are his use of children to convey his adult tales ("Pan's Labyrinth", "The Devil's Backbone"- set in a boy's orphanage), his fascination with fairy tales and mythology ("Pan's Labyrinth", "Cronos"- a story about vampires), and a strong sense of self ("Pan's" and "Devil's Backbone" deal with issues he has witnessed in real life). The fact that Guillermo has written these amazingly eccentric films only leaves many people with one choice- use him as the director and producer, just to get everything right! I truly believe the main reason why del Toro is also the director and producer is because he has created such a dazzling story on paper that no one could really create it the way it is supposed to be except for the man behind the original idea and the story line.

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