If you didn’t catch the second part of Sohaib Awan, host of Fictional Frontiers Radio Show on WJNC1360AM, speaking to Anthony Moody from Indalo Productions about the recent interview he conducted with Guillermo del Toro, here’s your chance to read the transcript. Anthony speaks his thoughts about Guillermo’s ‘Magic Realism’, Monsters and the possible ‘tone’ of the upcoming Hobbit Films. There is a also a great story Anthony cites on what Guillermo would have liked to have done in the ‘Pale Man’ scene in Pans Labyrinth. This is the second installment from the 2 part interview with Anthony. Enjoy!
Transcription 2nd November 08 Session 13 tORN Radio Segment
Anthony! Thanks for checking back in!
Thanks for having me again.
I guess just to take off from where we were last week we were talking about Guillermo’s passion for the Hobbit – I know you said you were very excited by the fact that he has so much passion for the film, and that he’s real excited, and that he’s actually reached a break through point as far as the script of the film is concerned and as far as just the production of the film itself.
What else really stood out in your interview with Guillermo, because obviously our visitors to our show are actually at theOneRing.net actually can get a detailed blow by blow (so to speak) of the interview at theOneRing.net. But talk a little bit about from your standpoint, what you thought – aside from his passion, really stood out when you spoke to Guillermo?
Well you know it’s interesting, the other thing that really jumped out at me was something that I think couldn’t have been captured really in the transcription of the interview because it was something that was informed by the talk that Guillermo gave at the Directors Guild, right after I interviewed him, which was basically a talk on Monsters.
And what was fascinating was Guillermo went on, kind of at length about ‘Magical Realism’ as it’s come to be called. And we touched on this briefly in the interview, but in his mind it was clear that Magical Realism is sort of a descriptive term that was sort of invented to make (to give) people comfort with films like Pans Labyrinth and some of the others that have come out of the Spanish and Latin American film making community in the recent years. And what was really interesting to me was that it was clearly something that stems from his upbringing in Mexico. He described it in his talk on Monsters how culturally it’s just very different there, you know. They might gather for a Sunday night family dinner and (you know) somebody would sit down and say how they were visited by their late Uncle in the middle of the night last night, and talked about sports or something like that. And the reaction around the table would be sort of very ‘nonplussed’ and sort of ‘Pass the salt’. [Sohaib laughs]
So – very much ingrained in the culture in which Guillermo grew up is that there isn’t really no distinction, or at least it’s not an unusual thing, and so in a strange way (you know) Monsters and that which is sort of ‘quote/unquote’ foreign, are very much part of the norm in the fabric of the culture in which he grew up. So in a way, that has a tendency that allows for the possibility that Monsters are a lot more scary than they might otherwise be at this (kind of) distance – that we can always sort of pull back no matter how scared we are, and say ‘well, we know better rationally because that’s not real’. Well, not so in the culture in which Guillermo was raised. So, in a lot of ways that’s much more terrifying possibly. But on the other hand, because they’re all so real and grounded in reality, that maybe there’s room for benevolence.
So, it’s a funny thing but, it’s a big take away that I had – the way his upbringing from the culture in which he was raised in Mexico, we may see some Monsters in the Hobbit films that maybe even are a little bit more familiar to us I think – and that’s just my sort of my take – than some of the ones that Peter Jackson and group created in the first ‘go round’ Lord Of The Rings films. So, it could be really interesting to see what we see.
Right! It’s interesting that you bring up Pans Labyrinth because I consider the film to be a masterpiece – I did enjoy ‘The Lives of Others’ as well. When I initially heard the results of the Best Foreign Film Oscar going to ‘The Lives Of Others’ I was disappointed because I thought ‘Pans’ was so good – but ‘The Lives Of Others’ is such an amazing film.
You were talking about the Magical Realism and I know The Hobbit itself is actually – I don’t want to say it the more child oriented or geared book, but it obviously has a more juvenile bent to it – I’m wondering if that’s going to skew the film to a more adult audience? Do you get that feel that he’s going to skew it more towards being in line with the Lord of the Rings films, or do you think it’s going to be something where it could be even darker than those films?
I think the likelihood is that they’ll be somewhat darker; I don’t think he’ll skew it overly so. It’s a funny thing; it’s sort of the opposite concern that was borne out with the Star Wars Films. I know I certainly remember the Star Wars Film as a kid, the original trilogy, and I don’t remember them feeling like movies that were geared towards kids at all, but certainly as an adult seeing the second trilogy get made, the prequel trilogy, you know, really felt skewed toward younger kids to me. And obviously we all aged 15-20 years in the process [Sohaib laughs] in between those two films.
So there’s sort of the opposite concern, right? That he’s going to sort of go more ‘adult’ and more ‘dark’ and more ‘scarier’. I think that’s very possible, it’s a funny thing, because The Hobbit is a little more contained as a story I mean as much as there is sort of is the ancientness of Smaug and the sort of the legends that are woven through it, it’s just a more contained story than the Lord of the Rings. So you could look at it as a real opportunity to kind of create a self contained ‘world within a world’ or a ‘history within a history’ that maybe is a little darker and a little scarier.
By the way, an interesting thing which jumps out at me that Guillermo talked about in his talk on Monsters was: the end of Pans Labyrinth – he said something really interesting – and this also gets back to that ‘Monsters Are Real’ sort of take; and that is he mentioned how a lot of people were sort of dissatisfied by the end of Pans Labyrinth. As he put it, people would come up to him and say “Oh, in the end we learned it wasn’t real”. [Sohaib laughs] And he said “certainly that’s a valid take” but in fact for him; it was kind of the opposite, and in fact it was real. [Sohaib agrees] But he simply couldn’t see it. [Sohaib: “Right”] So she could see it, right? Because she was open to it and was therefore able to see it but this evil fascist guy, this very simple two dimensional guy was not open to seeing it or was not able to see what was in fact, reality. I just also thought that was just really interesting, and again, another point that’s clearly, clearly driven from or sparked by his childhood.
By the way he also mentioned something really interesting which is when she goes into to see (and I forget the characters name) – the Monster with the eyes on his palm… [Sohaib: “Oh, the Pale Man]… Right! When she goes in to his lair and she takes the grape, he’d [Guillermo] originally wanted her to eat half the grape and then pull it back and show the other half of the grape in her hand and reveal that she had bitten a baby in half inside the grape. [Sohaib laughs: “Oh gosh”]
And I’ll tell you where he got that idea, because this was also fascinating – and funny. Ultimately he wasn’t able to do it. Not because it was too dark or too scary or any of that – they just didn’t have the money to do it the right way in terms of the digital effects required. He also didn’t feel comfortable cutting an actual baby in half. So it was just something that – it got left on the ‘idea room floor’ – they weren’t able to do it, and it was something that he said that when he sees the movie it’s something that he still so wishes. And so always wonder in ten years from now he’ll do a special Deluxe DVD, a BluRay edition or something where [laughs] he manages to digitally cut that into the film.
But it was funny too, he talked about how something like 10 or 20 years ago he was in Mexico, and a woman called (on a psychic hotline radio show, and she talked about) in her dream, she bit into a piece of fruit and had bitten a baby in half – you know, that’s what she looked at it. I think it was an apple in her hand. And he [Guillermo] said that it was just one of those – and she [the woman caller] was sort of calling to get it interpreted as a dream by the shows radio host – but that image so stuck with him that it wasn’t until – you know, it was just something he said “I got to put that in a movie” [Anthony laughs]. And so he really wanted to put it in Pans Labyrinth but wasn’t able to. So I just thought that was a really neat little antidote. I mean the way it speaks to the way ideas stay with you I guess, when you’ve such a creative mind – the way his is.
Right. Well you know for me I think – I’m sure on the one hand there might be certain Lord of the Rings fans and fans of the works of Tolkien who might be concerned because they might skew a little dark. But for me I think it almost harkens to what I think the films and the books were alluding to – which was the emergence of Mankind, and I guess the end of the Magical Era. So to go back and make that magical era part of the real tapestry of Middle-earth leading to the reality of man emerging as the dominant species – I think that if he takes that tone, if he takes that with The Hobbit, I think it’s going to be a very successful film. I’m personally excited. Is there any possibility you get to speak to him any time soon or no?
We’ll see. He’s an incredibly gracious guy and generous with his time, and he specifically said that in fact he’s usually very open in the processing. And I get the sense that, but for the enormous anticipation and the kind of problems with saying too much too soon, he would like nothing – I mean you get the sense he was sort of bursting at the seams to kind of tell and say more, but for lots of reasons they’ve all just decided that the best thing to do is keep things as much under wraps as is humanly possible for a situation where it’s going to be one of the most scrutinized films from start to finish – and by start I mean starting 6 to 12 months ago – and to finish, meaning by the time we see what I’m sure we’ll see some crazy extended editions on DVD four years from now.
Given the scrutiny it’s going to get, I think they’re just keeping their powder dry as much as possible. But he’s a generous guy with his time, and I think (you know I would certainly) weather it’s here in New York or hopping on a plane to New Zealand to speak more with him, I’m certainly up for it – I’m hoping for the best and the film making process wont so consume him that he won’t be able to come up for air and throw us some juicy pieces along the way. So fingers crossed.
Well, you know Anthony; it’s been fantastic and I want you to come back again because I know you have a couple of projects of your own with Indalo, and I definitely want everyone who’s interested in hearing about not just the film but also Guillermo’s background.
I’m glad you gave us some antidotes about his upbringing as well – to learn more about Guillermo as a Director – you know again, that’s part of the fun of not necessarily about what we expect to see but it’s always fun to hear about the back stories of the creative minds of all of these projects.
We’d love to have you again on Fictional Frontiers talking about Indalo – everything involved with that, and hopefully, and I think that given your interview with Guillermo and again – please visit theOneRing.net – Anthony’s interview is transcripted on there. Hopefully he will give you another opportunity. I just want to say thank you for taking the time Anthony.
Thanks for having me, and I’m always happy to come back.
Take care, Anthony.
Transcript by Elven for Fictional Frontiers and theOneRing.net.