Guillermo del Toro hopes that Animation's current box office success will help make more adventurous films

Guillermo del Toro hopes that Animation’s current box office success will help make more adventurous films

Animation was his first love. And, if Guillermo del Toro gets her way, it will be the last.

“There are a couple more live-action movies I want to do, but not many,” the Pinocchio AND The shape of water the director told the audience at the Annecy animation festival on Tuesday. “After that, I just want to do animation. That’s the plan.”

Del Toro, who said he started doing “what I thought was animation” when he was 8 using his father’s Super 8 camera, is following up on his Oscar-nominated film Pinocchio with another animated feature film for Netflix: an adaptation of The buried giant, based on the adult fantasy novel by Nobel Prize-winning British writer Kazuo Ishiguro. The book follows an elderly British couple living in a fictional post-Arthurian England where no one can keep their memories for the long term. Del Toro, who will produce as well as direct The buried giantand is co-writing the screenplay with Matilda the Musical writer Dennis Kelly, plans to shoot the film using the same stop-motion technique he used Pinocchio.

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“I believe you can make a stop-motion adult fantasy drama and move people emotionally,” said del Toro. “I think stop-motion can be intravenous. It can go straight to your emotions in a way that no other medium can.”

Del Toro said the recent string of animated box office hits, including Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse AND The Super Mario Bros. Movie, could provide a window for the production of more adventurous and “breaking” films in the genre. He also mentioned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhempremiered in Annecy and in theaters in August.

“The three strokes of Spider-Verse, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles AND Mario they are moving things around, allowing a little more freedom, but there are still big struggles to face,” he said. “Animation to me is the purest art form, and it was kidnapped by a group of We have to save it.(And) I think we can make a Trojan horse a lot of good stuff in the animation world.

The 58-year-old director spent a good deal of his Annecy master class mocking what he sees as destructive tendencies in many commercial animations where characters and emotions are “encoded into a sort of teenage rom-com, almost emoji-style behavior.[If]I see a character raise their fucking eyebrow, or cross their arms, have a cheeky pose — oh, I hate that shit. (Why) does everything act like they’re in a sitcom? I think it’s emotional pornography. All the families are happy, cheeky and fast, everyone has a joke. Well my dad was boring. i was boring. Everyone in my family was boring. We had no jokes. We are all fucked. This is what I want to see animated. I would like to see real life in animation. I actually think it’s urgent. I think it’s urgent to see real life in animation.

For Pinocchio, del Toro said that he tried to make the style more realistic by adding “unnecessary and inefficient motion gestures” that exist in reality but rarely exist in animation. “In animation, everyone is very efficient. If they sit down and get a glass of water, they do it in four motions. In real life, eight of us do it and we usually screw up. So I said: let’s make things inefficient. (I think) especially now, we need things that look like they were made by humans to recover the human spirit. I fucking hate perfection. I love things that look handmade. And stop-motion like real hand-made, hand-sculpted cinema”.

The enemy, del Toro told the audience of mostly animation students, was not artificial intelligence, but good old corporate stupidity.

“When people say they’re afraid of artificial intelligence, I say don’t be afraid of intelligence: be afraid of stupidity. All intelligence is artificial. Stupidity is natural. Completely natural 100% organic. Be afraid of stability. This is the real enemy. Referring to the studio talk, she noted, “I think when someone calls stories ‘content,’ when someone says ‘pipeline,’ they’re using sewer language.”

Del Toro, himself quite a mouthy, warned students that they will have to contend with a film industry “that’s bent on grinding shit and destroying your art.” He has noticed that he still gets turned down, on a regular basis, from studies. “They still tell me no. In the last two months they said no to five of my projects. So it doesn’t go away. Making movies is eating a shit sandwich. There’s always shit, just sometimes you get a little more bread with yours. The productivity rate against your efforts will remain frustratingly difficult and frustratingly long. And you will always meet assholes. But trust the stories you want to tell and wait for someone to buy them.”