Directed by: Guillermo Del Toro
Release Date: 1993Serving as my first introduction into Mr. Del Toro's world, I was completely entranced. Del Toro's take on vampirism is gorgeous, haunting, and poignant simultaneously.
We meet Jesus Gris (Jesus Cristo/Jesus Christ) and his mute granddaughter, Aurora. Jesus owns an antique shop. We learn the history of an inventor that created a small device he used to extend his life. He tragically dies and the device (Cronos) is said to have disappeared. Enter a strange a man into Jesus' shops who starts to randomly look under angel statues in the shop. This man fails to find this device but Jesus does.
Soon after, we meet one of Del Toro's usual collaborators, Ron Perlman's Angel De La Guarda. Angel works for his dying uncle (simply De La Guarda) who believes this Cronos device will make him immortal. The film is mostly in Spanish but breaks into English during scenes with Angel and everyone else. Perlman's Angel is a great tool; he's the best kind of character to dislike. You root for his demise. He's a fantastic villain.
What follows is a vampire film in the saddest and beautiful ways that only Del Toro knows how to create. The age old concept of immortality is wrapped up in this fantasy and Jesus Gris falls into the hands of this contraption which kills and rejuvenates him at the same time. Moody and dark, this being one of Del Toro's first films, it certainly served as a precursor to his future films stylistically and thematically. Del Toro always includes an aspect of tragedy regarding family and/or love or childhood trauma affecting our protagonist or antagonist in the present. In this film, we visit what immortality looks like for Jesus Gris and the effect on his family.
As a Spanish speaker, this film's symbolism and lyricism was effective and moving on all levels. Even for the non-Spanish speaker, this film will touch you in some way. Check it out!
Happy Valentine's Day!