Monday, October 12, 2015

GDT Week: Language of darkness

A couple years ago, I did a series looking at the best horror movie from each year that I've been alive. 1993 was thin, but thankfully, Guillermo del Toro gave us a classic.

Here, for your enjoyment, is what I wrote about del Toro's variation on the vampire, Cronos.

Go ahead and click the link. I said a good piece about this movie there.

There is a bit more to say. Del Toro reaches a different level when he directs in his native language. Cronos, The Devil's Backbone, and Pan's Labyrinth are connected by the language and in many ways, the language informs the three films. The cadences of Spanish are integral to how these stories are told. You'd be missing a character if you watched any of these dubbed in English.

It's not that del Toro can't write in English. The Hellboy movies are proof that he can handle dialogue that might be more heavy-handed (or equally heavy-handed but with less purpose and glee) under another writer-director. But when he directs in Spanish, it's like the movies get an extra dose of magic. It's dark magic, to be sure, but not any less wondrous than the lighter magics and spell language of Harry Potter and his wizarding ilk.

The foreignness, at least to my ears, of the dialogue in Pan's Labyrinth adds to the mystery of the movie. I can watch it and understand what's going on without reading the subtitles. The music of the spoken word is part of the reason. What might be stilted and disjointed in English flows in Spanish  like a midnight river, carrying me away to some terrible fairy tale world that won't let me go because I can't beg for release in its native tongue.

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