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Exclusive Interview with horror masterpiece Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro
By James Whittington, Friday 27th October 2006

One of the main highlights at this years Zone Horror FrightFest was the premier of the Guillermo del Toro masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth. The great man himself was there to introduce the movie and answer questions from the audience. We were lucky enough to grab 10 minutes of his valuable time to bring you this exclusive interview.

ZH: Can you tell us the story of Pan’s Labyrinth?

GDT: It’s a follow up, a sort of sister movie to The Devil’s Backbone. It’s a very dark fairytale set against fascist Spain in 1944. The Devil’s Backbone is the boy’s movie, the male movie and Pan’s Labyrinth is the girl’s movie. But don’t let that fool you (laughs) it’s pretty nasty in parts.

ZH: Why fascist Spain?

GDT: Well the idea behind this, the fable, the fairytale is about choice and the fascism is about destruction of choice. So the idea was to completely counterpoint a completely male universe and put a female protagonist in the centre. So there’s a complete clash of opposites.

ZH: Is there anything that particularly interests you in this context?

GDT: I think its very similar stuff to what we’re living right now, where there’s a line of thought and if you don’t follow that line of thought you’re a traitor as apposed to a conscientious thinker.

ZH: At the Cannes Film Festival you claimed that fascism was the representation of ultimate horror and this being a horror festival puts the whole genre in a whole new chilling light.

GDT: Yes, but I think horror when played at a happening like FrightFest is a joyous occasion, you know, like a celebration of madness. But I think that true horror is human, always human, never fantasy. You know that true monsters in the real world are normally in politics (laughs) and in positions of power and I think that the idea of fascism being far more pernicious that she (my main character, Ofelia) can dream of and have nightmares about is one that I’ve been trying to insist upon since Cronus or Hellboy or Devil’s Backbone.

ZH: The Zone Horror FrighFest is a horror festival do you think Pan’s Labyrinth is a genre film, would you put it in that box?

GDT: I belong in the festival and don’t know if the movie completely belongs in the festival but I do so therefore I’m actually taking a risk. I’m actually saying “it may not be the most emblematic film to begin FrightFest” but I most certainly wanted to do it. This is the first screening after Cannes. I think I define my personality and the personality of my work by saying “what do we do right after Cannes? FrightFest!” There are two sides to the same craft, to the same person and the same stories

ZH: When you look back on your filmography, there are small budget features there’s large budget features how does it affect your creative work with all these different budgets?

GDT: The smaller stuff is much, much better because you know you can only do certain things but you can do them exactly how you want them so you won’t get the big toys but you get to play the way you want it. Err, although in terms of craftsmanship I don’t perceive Pan’s Labyrinth in terms of existing if I had not done Hellboy, Blade 2, Mimic before. I think sometimes as filmmakers we tend to think we’re totally f*****g artistic and we forget we’re craftsmen any training is good training. Like the whole industrial training you get in Hollywood is extremely good it makes your muscles much better, it makes your reflexes much better as a film maker.

ZH: What do you think of the Zone Horror FrightFest?

GDT: Erm, you know, like two years ago when FrightFest was still growing, I mean it’s still growing unfortunately for Alan and for Paul and the rest (laughs) it’s the matter of believing in a concept and I’ve always loved the concept of FrightFest. I love it because it plays to the true fans where they can get together and be vociferous about their passion and is an outlet that we need urgently in a live environment.

ZH: So what’s next?

GDT: Next we continue the adventures of Hellboy in a sequel called Hellboy 2: Golden Army, we’re going to shoot in London and in Budapest in Hungary and it’s a much bigger picture than the first one though the budget is not much bigger than the first one (laughs) but its nice to take Hellboy to a different level of adventures to explore the other side of the comic books and one movie would not do it justice, so that’s why we’re doing another one.

ZH: Guillermo del Toro, thank you very much.


Click Here for Jason Jones Review of Pans Labyrinth


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