As a collector of movie themed books, nothing brings me back to my childhood than when you find a book that is not only dedicated to a single title, but one that covers it with so much detail that you literally can just fall right into the film as you’re slowly turning the pages, reading all about the making of the particular title while looking at the wonderful images therein. It’s really magical. Of course, it’s great when you can find one of these books on a movie that you absolutely adore. Or maybe it’s about a particular filmmaker. Or even better, a series of books on this same guy, who has continued to create some of the most beautiful cinematic features over the years. Of course, I’m talking about Guillermo del Toro and the amazing books that have been coming out over the last few years.
Over the last five years, there have been at least a half dozen titles that have come out, either from Harper Design and/or Insight Editions, all looking very similar to each other, but are just filled to the brim with tons of information. The first volume was called Guillermo del Toro Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions, and was released by Harper Design in October of 2013. This book was a walk into the creative mind of del Toro and what a wonderful stroll it is to take. It covers the filmmakers early life, gives us a tour of Bleak House, as well as going through some of his movies. Filling the pages are images where your mind can be inspired, from the mind-blowing photos of his collection in Bleak House, to the illustrations and original sketches from the different films, all coming from his notebooks while he was developing these movies. This large hardcover was a bit pricy with the original retail at $60, but it really is a must for fans of his work. Here’s a video he made explaining what this book is all about. Better to hear it right from him, right?
Of course, if you have some extra cash, you can order the special limited edition one, that comes in an actual cabinet with partitions and a secret drawer that holds the book. Each edition is signed by del Toro, comes with four never-before-released original art prints, and three prop reproductions of items from his films. You get Professor Broom’s rosary and the bone amulet both from Hellboy, as well as the Cronos device. There is also an instruction manual for the Cronos device, more artwork from Pan’s Labyrinth, and a Certificate of Authenticity. Granted, one of these editions retails for $750. So if anybody out there is wondering what to get me for my birthday next August….
But it seemed like they were just testing the waters with this one, because a few years later, we started to see more volumes, but now each one dedicated to a single movie. In 2015, we got Crimson Peak: The Art of Darkness, which really set the stage for the future volumes. The pages are not only filled with photos from the film, but also little bonus pieces that have been glued into some of the pages, like a letter from the film, an original character design, and little interesting tidbits like that. There’s also some fold-out pages as well, making this just so much fun to page through.
Then in 2016, we got three more volumes from the works of Del Toro. In June, The Art of The Strain came out, which covers the TV mini-series based on the books co-written by Del Toro. Two months later, we got another title, except this one wasn’t on a particular film, but on the filmmaker himself, entitled Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters. Another beautiful volume, this one gives us a little deeper tour of Bleak House, as well as into the man himself. We get to see what has inspired him through the years, from both a film and literary aspect. In fact, in the back of the book, this is a list of films, books, authors, and artists that have helped shape him to who he is.
Being a lifelong horror fan myself, I’ve always found it irritating when a filmmaker that starts out in the horror genre, decides to go to make “real films” once they’ve made a name and turns their back on the genre. But not Guillermo. In this book, he states “I really think I was born to exist in the genre. I adore it. I embrace it. I enshrine it. I don’t look upon it or frown upon it in a way that a lot of directors do. For me, it’s not a stepping stone, it’s a cathedral.” Damn, if I didn’t admire him enough as it is! I just wish more filmmakers could see and realize the beauty in this dark genre.
The last volume released in 2016 was Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth: Inside the Creation of a Modern Fairy Tale. This follows much in the same vein as the previous volumes, making it a real piece of beauty. Filled to the brim with original character designs and sketches, in-process makeup photos, production designs, storyboard illustrations, and so much more.
Last year, we got two more volumes for the library, one on The Devil’s Backbone and one on his latest film, The Shape of Water. Both of these continue the down the path, giving us so much information about the making of these two incredible films.
Each of these volumes are ones that you can easily find yourself lost while paging through them, looking at all the different designs, drawings, photos, and where the inspirations might have come from. Inspirations is a great word for these books because it shows not only where Del Toro is inspired from, but it also passes that one to the reader by hoping to inspire them.
I can’t wait to see if more of these beautiful volumes will continue to come out. I would really love to see one on his first film, Cronos….hint, hint! But none the less, if you are a fan of his work, then I couldn’t urge or stress enough how amazing these books are and how you will love falling into the mind and world of this incredible filmmaker.