Guillermo del Toro, Master of Monsters - and Double Oscar Winner

Manila Bulletin, March 8, 2018 | Go to article overview

Guillermo del Toro, Master of Monsters - and Double Oscar Winner


By (AFP)

Hollywood, United States -- Guillermo del Toro's entire, dazzling career has been built around a fantastical world of outlandish creatures - an elaborate universe he says he built by the age of 11.

The Mexican filmmaker - who won best picture and director honors on Sunday for his lush fantasy romance "The Shape of Water" - is known for the monsters, vampires, and superheroes that populate his creations.

They have earned him a mantel full of awards, including the Golden Globe, a Directors Guild prize, a Bafta, and now two Oscars.

And all of them emerged from the experiences of a young boy growing up in Guadalajara who loved exploring sewers, was fascinated by black magic and had a werewolf for a stuffed animal.

"I was a kid enamored with movies, growing up in Mexico. I thought this could never happen. It happens," Del Toro said Sunday.

The 53-year-old has called "The Shape of Water" his first "grown-up movie."

Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, the genre-defying film is a love story between a mute janitor at a top-secret US government research facility and a strange amphibious creature being held captive there.

"It's his masterwork to date," said Mexican film critic Leonardo Garcia Tsao, a longtime friend of Del Toro's.

"There was a very Guillermo element missing (from his previous films), and that was humor," he told AFP.

Previous Del Toro films such as "Pan's Labyrinth" and "The Devil's Backbone" - both filmed in Spain and set during the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath - were darker, with themes like loss and yearning.

"The Shape of Water" is, at its heart, an optimistic movie.

But the connecting thread running through all his films is his magnificent monsters, and the human villains who, as Del Toro himself has put it, turn out to be the real monsters.

Del Toro grew up in a devoutly Catholic family, with a poetry-writing, Tarot card-reading mother, and a father who won the lottery when Guillermo was young and used the jackpot to build a car dealership empire.

As a boy, Del Toro set about turning the family's gleaming new modernist mansion into a haunted house populated with hundreds of snakes, a crow, and rats that he sometimes cuddled with in bed, according to a 2011 profile in The New Yorker. …

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