And now, del Toro has given us perhaps his greatest gift yet, The Cabinet of Curiosities. It’s like Christmas Morning. This epic book—Bible, rather—is a personal tour around the mind of del Toro, from the man himself. From concept ideas that never came to fruition to the foundations of the films we know and love today, this treasure trove is insightful and awe-inspiring. The book includes a Burtonesque development of his creatures, beginning with sketches and messily-written notes in Spanish. His grotesque drawings burn with color and jump off the page like the ramblings of a madman. While it certainly cannot be said that del Toro is definitively sane, this book is evidence of his sharpness and prolific understanding of film. Quite frankly, it is not an overstatement to suggest a similarity to this and Da Vinci’s notebooks. We see his feral and ferocious curiosity and imagination in all these intimate notes, from his beginning works in his native Spanish like Cronos or The Devil’s Backbone to the modern blockbusters, Pan’s Labyrinth, and the Hellboy franchise.
|Familiar images from Hellboy in his journal|
This publication makes del Toro very vulnerable: often artists prefer to defend themselves against the intrusion on their work or process, but instead del Toro invites us in, and I feel humbled and, honestly, a little unworthy of it all. The book in its whole is tough to process—I first read it as a picture book. But if you buckle down and invest time to look at the interviews and additional material, you realise that his ability to transform his audience isn’t why we love him: it is because he has the greatest respect and awe for what he does, and is quite noticeably never satisfied with the work. And you instantly understand why his work is, for a lack of a better word, astounding.
|The museum of Cabinet of Curiosities|