Guillermo del Toro: ‘I love monsters the style people worship holy images’

Guillermo Del Toro: 'I Love Monsters The Style People Worship Holy Images'

The film-makers fantastical world is not just expressed in his run but in his home and now, thanks to a new exhibition in Los Angeles, anyone can visit

Guillermo Del Toro: 'I Love Monsters The Style People Worship Holy Images'

When film-maker Guillermo del Toro was directing his 2006 fantasy, Pans Labyrinth, he told his art department to conjure a make-believe world more real than the actual world. He was talking about the alternative realm into which his protagonist disappears in order to avoid the harsh realities of fascist Spain, but he could have been talking about his own Bleak House, a Westlake Village residence crammed full of mementoes, toys, illustrations, models, literature and art, all centered on the macabre. While it may seem like the indulgence of a rich Hollywood egomaniac, instead it is the brain trust of the most prolific and distinctive horror and sci-fi/ fantasy film-maker working in movies today.

Its everything, Del Toro fights to find the words to describe Bleak House,( actually two homes side by side ). Its the single thing that I have done that conveys me most completely, more than any of my movies. The house could never withstand regular public visits but an ample sampling of the collect including models, sculpture, first-edition literary classics, art work, illustrations and props have been removed to Lacma for Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters through 27 November, then will travel to Minneapolis and Toronto.

Highlights include two figures from Pan Labyrinth, winner of best makeup, art direction and cinematography Oscars. In the movie, young Ofelia is guided through a fantasy realm by a woodland spirit called the Faun who at first appears menacing but subsequently proves friendly. Seen out of context under dim incandescent illumination at Lacma, the Fauns artistry is enhanced rather than lessened, its etched, circular patterns and otherworldly countenance still as beguiling and repellent as on screen.

Mike - Guillermo Del Toro: 'I Love Monsters The Style People Worship Holy Images' Mike Hills sculpture of Boris Karloff being made up as Frankenstein. Photograph: Joshua White/ JWPictures.com

His counterpart, the Pale Man, a demon with his eyes in the palm of his hands, is as terrifying in real life as he is in the movie. Only here you can casually analyse his ashen complexion and loose, sagging flesh( inspired by Del Toros own fights with weight loss ), without anxiety of reprisal.

The sculpture gallerys most prominent runs are by Thomas Kuebler and Mike Hill, whose life-size reproduction of Boris Karloff, shirtless, reclining in a barber chair while makeup human Jack Pierce puts the finishing touches on his Frankenstein makeup, is modeled from a behind-the-scenes photo. Del Toro considers the 1931 Karloff version of the monster, a predominant fixture within the collecting, to be a seminal figure in the horror genre.

Kueblers sculptures include three life-sized characters from Tod Brownings classic, Freaks as well as a life-sized Edgar Alan Poe seated at a desk, and novelist HP Lovecraft, whose At the Mountains of Madness Del Toro has long tried to bring to the big screen.

Horror - Guillermo Del Toro: 'I Love Monsters The Style People Worship Holy Images' Horror heaven the present contains a variety of lifesize models Photograph: Joshua White/ JWPictures.com

A glance at the manically crowded pages of the artists notebooks offers early attempts at various beasts that evolved dramatically over day. The final product usually incorporates outlandish physical attributes based on design motifs as well as the beings nature, origin, survival needs and behaviour. For instance the Angel of Death costume from Hellboy II features a blind face covered by a bony crescent-shaped plate above a lipless set of teeth. To solve the problem of how the Angel might find, del Toro turned to a peacocks tail for inspiration, placing a series of eyes, each actively watching and blinking, among the black featherings of the animals wings.

While some movie fans will find themselves in horror heaven, others might wonder what these playthings and models are doing in an art museum. In 2009, MoMA caused controversy while inspiring huge ticket marketings with an exhibit dedicated to film-maker Tim Burton. In fact Britt Salvesen, the curator of At Home With Monsters, was co-coordinating curator on the display when it came to Lacma two years later.

She says that Del Toros collection taps into a long tradition the cabinet of curiosities. There is a mode of collecting that has this tradition even before museums as institutions existed, she says. And Guillermo del Toro is actually an heir to that type of collecting. The cabinet of curiosities is a way of creating a world in miniature and unifying various objects often endowed with some kind of power, value or beauty and aggregating them together in often apparently random arrangings that built sense maybe only to the collector.

A - Guillermo Del Toro: 'I Love Monsters The Style People Worship Holy Images' A sculpture of Ray Harryhausen playing with his stop motion skeletons. Photo: Joshua White/ JWPictures.com

Salvesen coordinated the indicate by theme with one room dedicated to demise and the afterlife, and others on the subjects of magic, horror, occultism and ogres, with the display ending, the style Hollywood movies often do, on themes of innocence and redemption. Its not a collection in the sense a church is not a collection of images or icons, del Toro explains. To me, it has a spiritual calling. I love monsters the style people adore holy images. To me, they genuinely connect in a very fundamental way to my identity.

Its a character trait he didnt pass on to his daughter who, when she was younger, wouldnt set foot in Bleak House. Then again, neither would the guy from the telephone company. Del Toro is a skeptic when it comes to ghosts but recalled feeling an otherworldly presence that may have come with a dining room situated he purchased a while back. Alone in the house, he would hear footsteps until his mother, whom he describes as a bit of a witch, visited and did a cleansing. After that , no more footsteps.

The house is silent most of the time, as Del Toro is its merely occupant. If he is working on a screenplay, he will go through his copious library and pull out books for research, as well as illustrations and models that might help him conjure the seem of his intended movie. Then he takes a seat at a well-lit table and gets to work.

Hills - Guillermo Del Toro: 'I Love Monsters The Style People Worship Holy Images' Hills sculpture of Frankenstein and his bride. Photograph: Joshua White/ JWPictures.com

With research complete, hell begin to write in his usual place, the rain room, a space with a fake window outside of which there is a rainstorm on a 24 -hour loop( duplicated for the Lacma indicate ). I fell on a huge sofa and I go into a delicious trance and write for a few hours. And if I want to watch a movie, I have two home theaters where I can watch a movie and relax. To me, movies are books. They are texts to be consulted.

The son of a car salesman who won the national gamble, Del Toro was raised in a strict Catholic home. Even as small children he was preoccupied with monsters and horror, collecting figurines and dressing up. One of Bleak Houses earliest pieces is a stuffed werewolf from when he was seven years old.

A lot of Mexican Catholic dogma, the style its teach, its about existing in a state of grace, which I find impossible to reconcile with the much darker view of the world and myself, even as small children, says the film-maker who has dedicated his career to dreaming up new creatures. I couldnt make sense of impulses like fury or resentment and, when I was older, more complex ones, you know. I felt there was a deep cleansing may be required for imperfection through the figure of a monster. Monsters are the patron saint of imperfection.

Del - Guillermo Del Toro: 'I Love Monsters The Style People Worship Holy Images' Del Toro with the catalogue for his indicate. Photo: Albert L Ortega/ Getty Images

And if flaw is everywhere, then more ogres are required. To fill the gap, del Toro will be bringing back the Kaiju giant, city-destroying ogres in the sequel to Pacific Rim, which he will produce but not direct, starring John Boyega and Scott Eastwood. An amphibious man forms a bond with a mortal female in The Shape of Water, his cold war relationship tale currently filming in Toronto. And on the small screen his Trollhunters, based on his childrens volume, airs on Netflix beginning in December, and his vampire series, The Strain, moves into whats likely to be its final season. That covers Tv, movies and publishing, and as for theatre, the Faun and the Pale Man will return in Pans Labyrinth the musical, which is aiming for European previews before moving to Broadway next year. To say Del Toro is prolific is an understatement, and it all begins with Bleak House.

I walk into the house and I feel Im home, says the director. I feel very blessed and vastly grateful about the fact that Im 51 and Im able to live there, because its the place I dreamt of living in since I was a seven-year-old child.

This article was amended on 3 August 2016: the Tim Burton present opened at MoMA in 2009 , not 2011; Britt Salvesen worked on the Lacma verson.

Guillermo Del Toro: 'I Love Monsters The Style People Worship Holy Images'
Guillermo Del Toro: 'I Love Monsters The Style People Worship Holy Images'
Guillermo Del Toro: 'I Love Monsters The Style People Worship Holy Images'
Guillermo Del Toro: 'I Love Monsters The Style People Worship Holy Images'
Guillermo Del Toro: 'I Love Monsters The Style People Worship Holy Images'

Guillermo Del Toro: 'I Love Monsters The Style People Worship Holy Images'

Guillermo Del Toro: 'I Love Monsters The Style People Worship Holy Images'

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