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Guillermo del Toro Cabinet Of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections And Other Obsessions

    Ian Jane

  • Guillermo del Toro Cabinet Of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections And Other Obsessions

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    Authors: Guillermo del Toro and Marc Scott Zicree
    Released by: Harper Design
    Released on: October 29, 2013.
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    Guillermo del Toro is a big kid. For as much success as he's found in mainstream Hollywood, he's never ever tried to place himself on any sort of pedestal or deny his genre roots. In fact, if anything, with pictures like Pacific Rim and the Hellboy films, he's embraced them. Sure, those are big budget blockbuster pictures, the kind we don't usually cover on this site, but let's face it, he's somehow managed to trick the big studios into giving him massive budgets to make… monster movies. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Honestly, there's a whole lot right with that. But when you consider just how boring and formulaic most mainstream Hollywood pictures are these days, seeing someone like del Toro not only get a platform but succeed with his odd pictures is refreshing. Maybe the big studio system isn't completely dead if he's managed to get it on life support.

    Del Toro is a monster kid. He grew up loving horror movies and comic books and superheroes and robots and fantastic creatures of all kinds. As he's climbed the ladder, he's obviously made decent money and this has allowed him to amass the type of collection that most of us could only dream of. Seriously, this man has a house, referred to as 'Black House' that is literally his own private museum of, as the title of this book implies, 'his notebooks, collections and other obsessions.' Del Toro has a lot of stuff. And most of that stuff is awesome.

    So this book then, it stands to reason, is basically a guided tour of del Toro's collections. He's the tour guide, co-author Marc Scott Zicree is the museum director, and we're the guests. What's in store? Well, the literal answer is 256 full color pages bound in a gorgeous hardcover presentation complete with ornate embossed artwork with a whole bunch of text and pretty pictures but what this really serves as is a glimpse into del Toro's mind and a justification for his aesthetic as a filmmaker. So as we wander through del Toro's 'Bleak House' we wander through his life, his background, his love for genre and fantasy and his spirit of creativity. Some examples? The set of encyclopedia's he had as a child is on a bookshelf, but so too are scores of graphic novels and books on film and fantasy, all of which played a part in shaping his style. A bust of Charles Dickens is found nearby a stack of his own notebooks (he makes notebooks for each of his projects and they're filled with ideas and notes and sketches) and a drawing table. A statue of The Simpson's Mr. Burns looks across from the top of a bookshelf.

    The entry way to the house greets you with a massive Frankenstein face. A life size statue of one of the monsters from Hellboy in the middle of the hall, paintings and display cases lining either side. Cabinets decorate all the free space in the house, a sculpture of Karloff being made up by Jack Pierce looking frighteningly lifelike in a corner, more books and more shelves along either side. Head up the stairs and watch out for a Freaks replica, an H.R. Giger original framed next to artwork from Mike Mignola. Upstairs there's shelf upon shelf of action figures and movie props, watched over by a bust of Alfred Hitchcock. A room full of fantasy art sits next to a second room full of symbolism and surrealism inspired works.

    As we wander through all of this the text ties it all into del Toro's films. So here we see his possessions and his belongings but also gain insight into why certain aspects of movie's like Cronos and The Devil's Backbone look the way that they do and play out as they play out. The end result is a book that is part picture book, part art theory book and part biography which at the same time goes some way towards letting us know what unmade projects like At The Mountains Of Madness and Mephisto's Bridge may turn out like. It's a fascinating look into one of the most creative minds working in Hollywood today, surprisingly devoid of pretension and thankfully very down to earth, that serves as a celebration of the odd, the bizarre, the humorous, the macabre and the fantastic. The text is as easily readable as the pictures are completely drool worthy. This is the stuff that fanboy dreams are made of, but also a unique portrait of a distinct talent.

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