Director Talks up Guillermo del Toro-Produced Dia de los Muertos Animated Film The Book of Life

By Luke Y. Thompson in Movies
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 11:30 am


"As a huge huge lover of Mexican culture and Latin art, I would say folk art from Mexico was an inspiration for the movie, and my favorite thing about folk art is that it's art made by artisans for regular people. It's the type of art that you take home and if it breaks, you get more; the type of art that your kids can play with." At an exclusive art opening in Beverly Hills last night, director Jorge R. Gutierrez (cocreator of the Nickelodeon cartoon El Tigre) unveiled a first look at his new upcoming feature, a love story set in a world of articulated wooden figures, giant Aztec totems and Day of the Dead iconography.

Now, unfortunately we weren't allowed to photograph any of the art, but I can try to give you a sense of how things looked. Imagine a mix of Cool World:


Corpse Bride:


John Kricfalusi:


...and Metalbeard from The Lego Movie. All through a filter of Mexican iconography.


"We are bringing new concepts and new images to this beautiful form of arty, animation, and we hope that you'll discover them with us." - Guillermo del Toro, in a video greeting.

The final output will be CG animation, but the art on display varied from paintings to drawings to wooden figures used for reference. Death is depicted as a woman, not unlike a Day of the Dead take on the Corpse Bride, but in bright red with a gigantic hat covered in candles. A giant bull with a totem-pole styled head faces down one of the heroes in one scene; in another, giant stylized floating skulls hover above a multicolored desert. What we were told of the story wasn't much: it's about a boy whose desires for what he wants to do with his life come into conflict wioth his family's desires for him. Reading between the lines a little bit after hearing one of the movie's original songs performed, my sense is that the boy comes from a family of matadors, and no longer wants to kill bulls.

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