Guillermo del Toro (b. 1964) is an Oscar-winning Mexican director, screenwriter, producer, novelist, film scholar, curator, and nonfiction writer who works internationally on English-language and Spanish-language projects in Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and the United States and across a number of different media, including film, television, animation, and novels. Although he has worked in multiple genres, including horror (Mimic (1997), Blade II (2002), Crimson Peak (2015)), action/fantasy (Hellboy (2004), Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)), science fiction (Pacific Rim (2013)), and hybrids of these and other genres (The Shape of Water (2017)), he is most known for the gothic sensibility of many of his projects (Cronos (1993), The Devil’s Backbone (2001), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Crimson Peak (2015)). Relatedly, Del Toro’s Cronos and his subsequent films, including those he has produced have contributed greatly to the rehabilitation of the horror and fantasy genres from the cultural disreputability they suffered through the 1960s to the early 1990s and also facilitated more horror production in Mexico going forward. In addition to the gothic quality of his work, Del Toro’s auteur status is often traced through the recurring imagery, themes, and monsters that appear across his oeuvre and through the recurring preoccupations with the contiguity of real and fantasy worlds and with ghosts as manifestations of the (historical and political) past. Although Del Toro has made and been involved in the production of some notable franchise films in recent years, directing Blade II, Hellboy, and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, receiving a screenwriting credit for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) he has also turned down several opportunities to work on franchise films in the Narnia and Harry Potter series (passing on directing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban but suggesting his compatriot Alfonso Cuarón for the job instead) and leaving the production of The Hobbit films after work on the scripts. He’s also received writing credit on Trox Nixey’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010).
A number of articles and books give a general overview of Guillermo del Toro’s career. Ward 2014 and O’Flynn 2008 are auteurist studies, whilst Sánchez Prado 2014, Tierney 2018a, and Tierney 2018b situate his career and oeuvre within the context of shifts in the Mexican film industry, the Hollywood film industry, and the global film industry and market. Chávez 2011 meanwhile argues for the importance of considering Del Toro’s work in both English-language and Spanish-language cinema as a whole.
Chávez, Daniel. “De faunos hispánicos y monstruos en inglés, la imagi-nación orgánica en el cine de Guillermo del Toro.” In Tendencias del cine iberoamericano en el nuevo milenio: Argentina, Brasil, España y México. Edited by Juan C. Vargas, 371–407. Guadalajara, Mexico: Universidad de Guadalajara, 2011.
A general overview of both del Toro’s Spanish-language and English-language work that identifies various characteristics of del Toro’s oeuvre and argues for seeing his work as a whole and not as two distinct parts divided between art cinema (represented by the films made in Mexico and Spain) and a more commercial cinema (films made in the United States). In this chapter Chávez also offers an analysis of El laberinto del fauno.
O’Flynn, Siobhan. “The Fragility of Faith in the Films of Guillermo del Toro.” In Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema. Edited by Kenneth R. Morefield, 144–159. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2008.
Explores the ways in which del Toro’s films create contemporary myths and “reverse the expectation of the horror genre, in that his protagonists are ultimately saved by the figures initially identified as supernatural and/or monstrous” (p. 146).
Sánchez Prado, Ignacio M. “The Three Amigos and the Lone Ranger: Mexican ‘Global Auteurs’ on the National Stage.” In Screening Neoliberalism: Transforming Mexican Cinema, 1988–2012. By Ignacio M. Sánchez Prado, 155–208. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2014.
Essay discusses del Toro and two other Mexican directors (Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu) in relation to their integration into the US industry and the global art cinema circuit. It traces del Toro, Iñárritu, and Cuarón’s beginnings in post-1988 Mexican cinema. It also focuses on Cronos and the intersection of Mexican cinematic traditions and transformations and the emergence of a global “art” cinema and the global auteur.
Shaw, Deborah. “Introduction and ‘Guillermo del Toro: The Alchemist.’” In The Three Amigos: The Transnational Filmmaking of Guillermo del Toro. By Deborah Shaw, 1–18. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2013.
See also pp. 19–94. Situates del Toro within his contemporary cohort, the trio of Mexican directors who after initial domestic successes in Mexico went on to direct films in Europe and the United States. The section on del Toro offers a cross-border analysis of the points of contact between del Toro’s Spanish-language (Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone, and Pan’s Labyrinth) and American films (Mimic, Blade II, Hellboy, and Hellboy II: The Golden Army).
Tierney, Dolores. “‘Introduction: The Cultural Politics of Transnational Filmmaking,’ ‘Mexico.’” In New Transnationalisms in Contemporary Latin American Cinemas. By Dolores Tierney, 1–32. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018a.
This book, which details the intensification of industrial and aesthetic transnational cinematic practices across Latin America, includes several chapters and sections relevant to del Toro’s filmmaking in Mexico, Spain, and the United States. The introduction traces the concept of transnational filmmaking and the history and cultural politics of how films and filmmakers from the Global South are funded both by their national bodies and by European and North American funding bodies.
Tierney, Dolores. “Mexico.” In New Transnationalisms in Contemporary Latin American Cinemas. By Dolores Tierney, 33–46. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018b.
Offers a history of contemporary Mexican cinema, including film industry and legislative shifts that enabled del Toro’s domestic success (Cronos) and forced his departure for the United States. It also describes film industry and legislative shifts that have taken place concurrently with his success outside Mexico and his continuing relationship(s) to filmmaking in Mexico (The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth were both Mexico/Spain co-productions), reinvesting his cultural capital garnered abroad into Mexican projects.
Ward, Glenn. “‘There Is No Such Thing’: Del Toro’s Metafictional Monster Rally.” In The Transnational Fantasies of Guillermo del Toro. Edited by Ann Davies, Deborah Shaw, and Dolores Tierney, 11–28. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
Counters the separation that is often drawn between del Toro’s English-language and Spanish-language films, explaining that all of the director’s films are linked through a “metafictional ‘monster rally.’”
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