The Thing I Like About …

… Guillermo del Toro:  his view of children’s world.

In his movies, del Toro usually paints a gritty, uncompromising world, full of heartbreak, pain, child abuse, betrayal, death … you know, the usual.  Especially for the children, del Toro’s world is stressful at best – confusing, difficult, dark.  He never pulls any punches about what children are obliged to face – unfortunately, we all know that in the real world, children too often deal with even darker circumstances.

But at the same time, del Toro’s world is full of magic, full of love and hope, full of noble sacrifice.  There are strange and wondrous things around every corner for those who are willing to see them – usually children, of course, who crave new experiences, especially if they offer an escape from sadness or pain.  This magical world often asks a great deal of its visitors – sometimes very frightening things, in fact – but for those who are willing to go into this wondrous land, their lives are transformed, and the unjust are brought to account.

In a del Toro story, the children have to be brave, the grown-ups have to be deserving, and, just beyond the wretched world that we so often are content to live in, the magical world exists right in front of us – all we have to do is open our eyes and be courageous.

In a del Toro story, the child who is struggling to flee a dark life is the most able and ready to find the magic – is Guillermo saying that our pain brings us to transcendence?  I’m sure he is, because our pain does bring us to transcendence, if we let it.  But I think that he uses children – ones in such dire lives – to help the audience polarize their feelings:  it’s so obvious that these kids should have something better, that we immediately put ourselves behind their efforts.  For their sake, we believe in magic, we face the fearful images, we make the sacrifices, we work to be deserving.

By presenting an unvarnished, cold world and placing children right in the middle of it, Guillermo del Toro asks us all to find the magic in our own worlds, to bring into reality the wondrous things that surround his most vulnerable characters and challenge us to do the same.

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