Guillermo del Toro: interview

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Guillermo del Toro may be in line to direct 'The Hobbit' films, but his film 'Pan's Labyrinth' is also up for a BBC Four World Cinema Award

What do awards mean to you as a filmmaker?
Well, I love it when a movie connects with an audience, and that audience includes people giving awards. Emmy, Accademy, or any of the festivals and so forth. They mean a lot when they happen, but I’m pretty casual about it when they don’t.

It’s very beautiful, especially that this is happening at the time it is, which is almost a year after the theatrical release of ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’. In this instance, it’s a way of keeping the movie alive in some way.

You’re nominated for the BBC World Cinema Award. Do you consider yourself an arthouse or a mainstream director at heart?
I see myself as a perennial expatriate, because frankly, I don’t think I fit comfortably in any conventional form of filmmaking and I feel at the same time, depending on the project, I fit into many different ones.

If you ask me, I alternate between truly bizarre, what you would call ‘Hollywood’ movies and truly bizarre, what you would call ‘arthouse’ movies. But, then again, I don’t feel the movies fit perfectly in either one of them. The same question would be, am I a Spanish filmmaker, a Mexican filmmaker, a Hollywood filmmaker? I feel I’m just a filmmaker who is hopefully equally at odds with all of the above definitions.

Within the fantasy and horror films you have made so far, many have noted that you have a great handle over human emotion. Do you have any plans to ditch the effects and make a straight, realist drama?
I’m not that interested in recreating reality. I’m interested in recreating an emotional truth. You can find these truths in tales that are highly stylised, both in content and presentation. I’m more interested in truth than in reality.

One of your best-loved films is your debut ‘Cronos’. Since the success of ‘Hellboy’ and ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, have you been approached to remake these early Spanish-language films in English?
Yes, I’ve been approached to sell the remake rights of all three of my Spanish films and I have not agreed to sell them. To me they are artefacts. I am in the fortunate position of being the producer, or one of the main producers, of those films, so I control the rights and I don’t want them to be remade for that reason. I think that they cannot be made universal in that way.

I don’t mind anyone remaking any of my Hollywood efforts, because they are comfortably sat within one genre or another. For me, ‘Cronos’ is and it isn’t a vampire movie; ‘Devil’s Backbone’ is and it isn’t a ghost story; and ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is and it isn’t a fantasy film. I don’t want them to be homogenised into a genre.

The context and the setting is key in all of those films.
Yes, I think that one of the things that Hitchcock always said was that to be universal, you have to be very specific. You have to be very particular about where and when and why your film is happening at the places and the times that it is.

The Pioneer BBC Four World Cinema Awards 2008 will be broadcast on BBC Four at 9.10pm on February 2.

 

Author: David Jenkins



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