Guillermo del Toro, who turns 56 today, is known for his fantastic use of colour as well as utilising intricately detailed creature costumes and prosthetic makeup (hello Pale Man). Both of these trademarks show up in his Spanish-language dark fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth, a twisted fairytale from the same mold as the David Bowie-starring Labyrinth. The film was released in Spanish cinemas this week in 2006 and went on to be a worldwide hit, earning $83 million at the box office and collecting multiple awards including Best Cinematography, Best Makeup and Best Art Direction at the Academy Awards. The dark fairytale is considered a spiritual sequel to del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone and was at one point considered the middle entry in a thematic trilogy, with the now-cancelled 3993 rounding it out.
But did you know…
1) Del Toro fought hard to make the film in Spain and in Spanish and declined several offers from Hollywood studios, despite each coming with a much bigger budget. Following his experience of making Mimic with the Weinstein Company he said: “I decided I would never again attempt to make my darker, more idiosyncratic stuff in Hollywood”.
2) While prepping the film, Del Toro almost lost four years’ worth of development, as well as detailed character drawings, when he left his notebook in the back of a British cab. The driver fortunately found a scrap of stationary from a local hotel, and returned it all in one piece. The director took this as a sign to definitely follow through with Pan’s Labyrinth. The book also contained notes on Hellboy, Blade II and The Devil’s Backbone… well done that cabbie!
3) Making the film convinced del Toro he really hated horses, especially the scene in which Mercedes tries to escape Vidal’s men. In the film’s audio commentary he said: “I never liked horses, but after this scene, I hate them. They’re nasty animals. And I hate cows. Cows are evil. Cows are absolutely evil, I tell you. They’re offensive, perverted creatures. And so are horses. They are absolutely nasty motherf*ckers.” So, no Western for on the cards for Guillermo then?