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

"And the other huge inspiration for the movie," said Gutierrez, "is the holiday of Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, and specifically the core belief, which I'm a huge believer of. It's this idea that those who came before us live as long as we tell their stories, as long as we sing their songs, as long as we cook their favorite dishes, they're alive, they're with us, and the moment we forget them, the moment we don't talk about them, the moment we don't acknowledge - then they really are gone. That is the core belief of this holiday boiled down to a nugget, so that's what this film is. It's a celebration of life, it's a celebration of that idea, and it's an acknowledgement of everything that came before us, and why we are who we are and how we go on to the next generation. So, that's kinda where the movie was inspired by - my grandfather always told me, 'Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.'"

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"And so that's where all the stories come from, and when you guys see the film, it's how I feel about my wife, it's how my mom and my dad got married, it's how my grandfather was a terrible husband but a really cool dad. And the big thing about this movie is it's really funny and it's full of all these characters that feel really real, and they're based on people we knew growing up - teachers I hated are now in the movie - and all these different characters that you'll see. It's really the history of Latin America in this movie."

Emphasizing the "crazy eclectic" cast, the director mentioned Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Ice Cube, Danny Trejo and CheechMarin, but according to imdb, the range is even crazier: opera singer Placido Domingo has a part, as do Gabriel Iglesias, Christina Applegate, Channing Tatum and Ron Perlman (three guesses who brought him on board).

In addition to original songs, the soundtrack will have a unique overall bent inspired by Gutierrez' upbringing. "One of the big parts of the movie is the music and I grew up in Tijuana , and so I grew up basically with the US on one side and Mexico on the other side, and I got to see and live the clash of the cultures. So the music in the film is that. It's going to be covers of songs in the US and the UK, different places, but given a Latin spin."

"Even though it looks like it takes place in the past, the music is very current. At this time I'm not allowed to tell you guys the covers we're doing, but I can give one away and it's a huge deal to me - I saw this kid play this song in front of a cantina full of drunk mariachis, and the biggest part was though he could barely speak English, when he played the song it was deadly silent. And it's 'Creep' by Radiohead. Basically it's all the songs that I just wrote in the script and I never thought we could get 'em, but the bands have reacted in a way that I'm blown away, they've been really really kind to us."

I don;' know if it's part of the official soundtrack or not, but we also heard a female-vocal cover of U2's "one" that had a Latin style, so maybe it's in there too. And I wonder if this informs the design on the souvenir T-shirt I got on the way out:

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Coincidence...or hint?

The Book of Life opens Oct. 17th.


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