Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Guillermo del Toro Codices

The New Yorker (my issue hasn't come yet....where are you, dear magazine? You are always late to my mailbox. Do you hesitate each week because you fear coming into West Virginia, lest you be beaten up? Understand, dear magazine, we are an open-minded people here) has apparently done a story on the artwork of filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, whose monsters first take shape in elaborately decorated journals. Watch the New Yorker-produced video above, and you'll get to see the amazing detail of these works.

One of my favorite characters--and the best part, in my opinion, of Hellboy-- is the Angel of Death, whose eyes reside in her wings. I wrote the story, "North American Twilight", which also features the Angel of Death, before I saw del Toro's version in Hellboy, but I envision a similar creature, just one more cadaverous, growing ever more skeletal as she walks the earth, her skin hanging on her bones like old fabric. With del Toro's figure,  making the eyes inhabit the ridgy wing bones is genius (so much like the eyes of Argus that were later set, like gems, into peacock feathers by Hera.) The fact that they all blink at various intervals with a nearly audible click, sounding more physiological than mechanical, is totally arresting. I was smitten as soon as I saw it. I'm less sanguine about the bony crown, which looks somewhat like a flattened hip socket. Of course, this is only because I understand its function less. Why this shape? What purpose does such a calcification serve--is it a plate that protects a functioning brain? And then I think, *tsk-ing* Savannah, monsters don't need to have a form comprehensible to humans. It might have been a shape that arose fully formed in the filmmaker's mind, rather than being put together slowly, by a mental cutting-and-pasting of parts.

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