|The Cronos device, from Cronos d. Guillermo del Toro|
d. Guillermo del Toro
Criterion Collection #551
Uploaded to Criterion Collection Hulu Streaming on August 26th, 2013.
One of the many cool things about Criterion Collection/Hulu Plus is that they pop a new movie up every single day. Not all of them are Criterion Collection titles proper, but every so often you get a big score. Such was the case earlier this week when Guillermo del Toro's first feature, Cronos, went up- along with multiple of the DVD extras.
It's clear to me now that one of the things Criterion Collection does is advocate on behalf of some directors who are arguably Auteurs. They are clearly all in on Guillermo del Toro, having now given two of his films the Criterion Collection treatment. The other film is The Devil's Backbone. That films recent release was probably the impetus for Cronos being uploaded this week.
If you watch the included DVD extras, you can see the case being made for del Toro as an Auteur. Particularly compelling in that regard is the included interview with Director of Photography Guillermo Navarro, who describes the young del Toro as having "everything ready to go" before production even started. He also discusses how del Toro, working in Guadalajara Mexico, designed his own special effects because there was no one else to do it.
I've been a del Toro fan from the drop. I remember watching a regular old VHS version of Cronos back in the 1990s, and I positively leapt at the chance to interview del Toro when he was doing press for the regrettable flop Mimic (starring Mira Sorvino!) Of course, it was Pan's Labyrinth (2006) that really brought him to the attention of the Hollywood elite and then there are a handful of mass market films: Blade II, Hellboy I and II and Pacific Rim from this summer.
In his own interview that is included in the Hulu Plus stream package, del Toro discusses how all of the themes from his later work are present in his first feature, and how that's how he wanted it to be- to have everything from his universe present in the first film. Particularly germane to his later success is his connection to the dark side of a fairy tale- how a child can be a part of a dark story (Cronos is about Vampires) and still infuse the proceedings with a gentleness that belies the subject matter.
He also discusses how he likes "sad monsters" and uses the example from this film of the vampire from Cronos, Jesus Gris (played by Argentinian actor Federico Luppi) licking up blood for the bathroom floor. It's true, you can't get sadder then that. The jury is still out on del Toro as an Auteur. Methinks he needs a little less Pacific Rim and a little more Pan's Labyrinth, but it is still too soon to judge. I'm sure there will be more personal films like Cronos, The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth in the future, intermixed with his more predictable genre exercises. Personally, I liked Pacific Rim.