Bring­ing Out The Dead

Guillermo del Toro- pro­duced CG movie with a Mex­i­can flavour

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Red Alert -

Ever the worka­holic, Guillermo del Toro has now turned his hand to an­i­ma­tion, pro­duc­ing a CG movie in­spired by the Mex­i­can tra­di­tion of the Day of the Dead. “The Day of the Dead is very dear to my heart,” di­rec­tor Jorge Gu­tiér­rez tells Red Alert. “The core belief of this very univer­sal hol­i­day, which is as long as we re­mem­ber those who came be­fore us, as long as we tell their sto­ries and sing their songs and cook their dishes and tell their jokes, they’re with us. And the mo­ment we don’t talk about them, they re­ally are gone.”

With that idea in mind, Gu­tiér­rez con­ceived a story about two spir­its mak­ing a wa­ger as to which of two child­hood friends ( voiced by Diego Luna and Chan­ning Ta­tum) will win the heart of a young woman ( Zoe Sal­dana). He took the project to in­de­pen­dent stu­dio Reel FX in Dal­las, who se­cured Gu­tiér­rez’s first choice of pro­ducer: “They asked me, ‘ Who would be your dream pro­ducer?’ and like all young Mex­i­can film­mak­ers, I yelled ‘ Guillermo del Toro!’ at the top of my lungs. Sure enough, I went to pitch him the project and he fell in love with it.”

Even over a crackly phone line, Gu­tiér­rez’s ob­vi­ous af­fec­tion for his pro­ducer shines through. What was he like to work with? “Guillermo told me this great story,” Gu­tiér­rez re­calls. “Pe­dro Almod­ovar pro­duced The Devil’s Back­bone for him and Pe­dro told him, ‘ I’m go­ing to be the type of pro­ducer who, if you need me, I’ll be there and if you don’t need me, I won’t be there’. And, true to his word, he’s like Bat­man – when­ever I’m in trou­ble, I’ll turn on the Bat­man sig­nal and Guillermo will show up to help me.”

As you’d ex­pect from del Toro’s in­volve­ment, the film’s visual style is

“True to his word, del Toro is like Bat­man”

ex­tremely dis­tinc­tive, with the com­put­er­gen­er­ated char­ac­ters an­i­mated as both wooden mar­i­onettes and skele­ton pup­pets. “The look of this movie is very much in­spired by folk art, specif­i­cally Mex­i­can- Amer­i­can folk art and the type of art that is very stylised,” Gu­tiér­rez says, “but there’s an im­per­fec­tion to it that I find very charm­ing.” The di­rec­tor has also packed the film with visual ref­er­ences to ev­ery­thing from movies to paint­ings to videogames: “I re­ally wanted to have this movie hold up over a hun­dred view­ings and you’d find lit­tle things ev­ery time. It’s all in there! I fig­ured this might be the only movie I

get to make, so I’m putting ev­ery­thing in it!”

As well as land­ing his dream pro­ducer, Gu­tiér­rez also landed his dream cast. He ex­plains: “I wrote the main role for Diego. In my heart of hearts, I said the main character has to be a Mex­i­can ac­tor. And when Diego agreed to it, in­clud­ing the singing, which he’d never done be­fore, he com­mit­ted to it whole- heart­edly.” And as for Ta­tum: “Even though the movie takes place in Mex­ico and it’s kind of a Mex­i­can fairy­tale, I re­ally wanted to open it up to the whole world. When Chan­ning Ta­tum’s name came up, he fell in love with the part and he’s been an in­cred­i­ble col­lab­o­ra­tor. I told him, ‘ You’re go­ing to be Cap­tain Latin Amer­ica’ and he just went for it.”

The Book Of Life is re­leased on 24 Oc­to­ber.

Post­cards of this are on sale in the foyer.

Skinny, isn’t he?

Bal­conies: al­ways good for lovers.

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