This has been a great year for specialty books. For awhile, we were inundated with several zombies “best of” releases, and then shortly after several “vampire” “best of” editions to the point where I never wanted to read another vampire book again. So of course it gave me great pleasure to receive a brand new release from Insight Editions that focused on something different entirely. Namely the work and residence of creator, director, and all around fantastical contributor to the world, Guillermo del Toro
The book? “Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters: Inside His Films, Notebooks, and Collections” authored by Guillermo del Toro himself.
Hardbound, quality paper stock, tons of color images, gloss, glitz, and bound to last, this was a perfect shell for this man’s thoughts and images. Upon open, I was immediately taken to his surroundings. Not your typical “MTV cribs pent house”, but a house that embodies his interests, his taste in architecture, and his inspirations. You might take this for a museum if you didn’t know better. Old English flair catering to a living library of novels, statues, movie props, wall hangings, art, and personal achievements …..all structured around the fantastical and macabre. This is a movie/horror fan’s ideal crib indeed…yes I was a bit jealous.
Per the title, this book is indeed a deeper look into the man and his process. His residence located in California is referred to as the “Bleak House”, a part self-reflection, collector’s dream and creative workplace. Del Toro is reported to have spent half his earnings building and adding on to this living museum of collectibles. Inspired by the ol “Cabinet of curiosities” approach to collecting, Del Toro has remarkably surrounded himself with works and methods of inspiration. The book details all of this and more as it the man is interviewed about his process for film making and how it relates to his inspirations. The book beginning on this note, moves further past the curiosities up to an interview conducted by Roger Clark and Keith McDonald.
All comes full circle as we look into the gamut of influence that fuel’s Del Toro’s projects. His affinity with the Frankenstein monster, his attraction to folklore and pop culture, his collection of ancient world beings and renaissance illustrations are here for all to see. The power of art and science combined with an affinity for monsters and the great beyond provide the meat of this release making for a visual and narrative voyage thru the pieces that inspire.
As you are taken thru Bleak house, it’s not just sculptures and figures that adorn, but actual life size reproductions of scenes and mannequins making for a surreal decor and collective. A gigantic replica as Frankenstein’s head greets visitors said to have been made to the size of Frankenstein’s head on the movie screen. Though let’s not forget the inclusion of pages from his notebooks that detail new ideas and directions. All in all it is a fun read to make your way thru, rich with artistic merit and narrative explanations. A solid book of interest that provides the groundwork for budding film makers to aspire to.
The book itself is of great quality and craftsmanship making it a proud addition to one’s library. Though beyond the packaging is the makings of a fantastic Guillermo Del Toro book that gives readers the “insight” they might have missed in other reads. I’ve often said that a man is a product of his surroundings and mechanisms. This provides that level of proof thru careful observation and note taking.
From the publishers:
The perfect companion piece to an enthralling new exhibition on the visionary work and fervent imagination of director Guillermo del Toro.” In 2016, a new exhibit on the work of visionary director Guillermo del Toro will begin at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), before moving on to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Minneapolis Museum of Art (MIA). This book will be the perfect accompaniment to the exhibition.