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Monday, June 30, 2008

The Five Most Important Movies for Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro made El Laberinto del Fauno, which stands as a crazy masterpiece. I would put it on my top ten list.

Okay, that's my choice: let's see also del Torro's own list as he gave it to Newsweek:

  1. Los Olvidados (Luis Buñuel's film is a searing indictment of urban conditions—but also a dark fable): a group of juvenile delinquents live a violent and crime-filled life in the festering slums of Mexico City, and the morals of young Pedro are gradually corrupted and destroyed by the others (Michael Brooke)
  2. The Bride of Frankenstein (moving graveyard poetry; its esthetic legacy can be traced through Edward Gorey, Tim Burton and every neo-Goth in town): Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, reveals to Percy Shelley and Lord Byron that Henry Frankenstein and his Monster did not die; both lived, and went on to even stranger misadventures than before; as the new story begins, Henry wants nothing more than to settle into a peaceful life with his new bride; but his old professor, the sinister Dr. Pretorius, now disgraced, appears unexpectedly; eventually, he and the Monster blackmail him into continuing his work; the Monster wants his creator to build him a friend; and Pretorius wants to see dead tissue become a living woman.;Henry is forced to give his creature a bride (J. Spurlin)
  3. Greed (a brutal 1924 fable about the rotten state of modern man's soul): John McTeague was a simple slow man who became a dentist after working at the Big Dipper Gold Mine; he is now being hunted in Death Valley by his ex-best friend Marcus and the law; his lot was cast the day that he meet his future wife Trina in his office; she was with Marcus and she bought a lottery ticket; well, Mac fell for her and Marcus stepped aside; when Mac and Trina married, she won the Lottery for $5000 and became obsessive about the money in gold; Marcus is steamed as he stepped aside and now she is rich so he has the law shut down Mac as he has no official schooling for his dentistry; Trina fearful that they will take her gold away sells everything and takes all Mac earns when he is working; she adds to her stash of gold as they both live as paupers; when Mac has no job and no money, he leaves and Trina moves; driven to desperation at being poor and hungry he finds Trina and demands the gold (Tony Fontana)
  4. The Gold Rush (has at least a third of Charlie Chaplin's iconic moments): a lone prospector ventures into Alaska looking for gold; he gets mixed up with some burly characters and falls in love with the beautiful Georgia; he tries to win her heart with his singular charm (John J. Magee)
  5. La Chienne (Renoir's film about passion and murder urges us to accept that morality is a burden): cashier Maurice Legrand is married to Adele, a terror; by chance, he meets Lucienne (Lulu), and make her his mistress; he thinks he finally met love, but Lulu is nothing but a streetwalker, in love with Dede, her pimp; she only accepts Legrand to satisfy Dede's needs of money (Yepok)
Old stuff, yes, possibly giving us the key to the universe of del Toro's own movies. The dimensions of El Laberinto del Fauno are to be retrieved there, in the world of Buñuel, of Stroheim, mixed with the grace of Charlot, with the noir poetry of Renoir... only I think that the masterpiece of del Toro added its own dimensions; he started with worlds he was obsessed with, with worlds where he was finding his own questions, answers he was expecting; he constructed his own world, actually his pair of worlds, the one of the daughter, the one of the grown-ups.

I would be curios to know what del Toro thinks about Knife in the Water of Polanski, or about the movies of Kim Ki-Duk: the same idea of two universes flowing in parallel, unaware one of the other.



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