Guillermo del Toro is the kind of artist who doesn't get involved in projects unless he can really be a part of it. So when you see his name as a producer on Book of Life, that doesn't mean he threw in some money and walked away, he was instrumental in bringing director Jorge Gutierrez's movie to life.
Placing Dia de Los Muertos thematically and aesthetically at its center, Book of Life brings to life a beautiful animated world where two suitors vie for the love of the same woman, traveling to the underworld and back in the process. Here's what we learned about the movie Friday.
#1. Guillermo del Toro & Jorge Gutierrez Are Totally Bros
From the sound of it, Guillermo wanted to produce Book of Life mainly because he was so impressed with director Jorge Gutierrez. They're both very passionate about showing people a story that comes from the Mexico they know and love. After Jorge pitched him the movie and showed him what he wanted to do, Guillermo felt like he needed to protect the young filmmaker's vision and usher it to the screen.
#2. The Personal Significance of Dia de Los Muertos
Gutierrez revealed that he got married on the Day of the Dead because after his best friend died, it was the only way he could attend and be Best Man. It was also the only day the rest of his late family could attend the wedding. Gutierrez explained that telling this story was part of honoring his family because telling their stories, cooking their foods, and talking about them is how we keep them alive. "The moment we don't talk about them, they're gone," he said.
#3. The Movie Comes From a Story Gutierrez's Father Told Him
"The original inspiration for the movie was my grandfather," Gutierrez said. "When I was a kid, he sat me down, and he told me, 'Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.'"
#4. Music Is a Big Part of Things
Director Jorge Gutierrez said he wanted to incorporate all the elements of the Mexico he knows, and part of that was referencing Mexican punk and low rider cultures as well as using the pop music he grew up with. This results in a flamenco-tinged version of Radiohead's "Creep," and a piece of Biz Markie's "Just a Friend."
#5. Biz Markie Makes Any Party Better
Biz Markie's "Just a Friend," is used in the movie, so after the first clip he walked out and led the entire audience in a sing-along to his hit song. It was pretty awesome.
#6. This Will Be One of the Most Beautiful Movies of the Year
It's gorgeous to look at. Everyone in Hall H was in slack-jawed awe watching the footage. The palette is something you could look at for hours.
#7. Guillermo del Toro Likes Channing Tatum's 'Vulnerability'
Channing says he was interested in working on an animated feature for the first time, and he was just trying "to bring a little heart to something you don't actually get to embody." Del Toro complimented his work, saying he has "an adorable vulnerability, and it comes through in the voice."