Bringing Out The Dead
Guillermo del Toro- produced CG movie with a Mexican flavour
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.
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