Behind most great films and filmmakers there’s a storyboard, a formative method of planning in order to create a cinematic picture like no other. For Guillermo del Toro, there was a whole book of sketches.
A couple of years ago the acclaimed Mexican director offered a glimpse into his workings, releasing his book ‘Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebooks, Collections, and Other Obsessions’, allowing an insight into the pre-planning that works in tandem with his unrivalled creativity.
The book, which shares the “contents of his personal notebooks, collections, and other obsessions,” offers an intimate view into del Toro’s imagination with the early drawings and sketches in what would later become highly successful motion pictured. The likes of Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, Pacific Rim and more are all included alongside interview comments, detailed annotations, manic sketches and a running commentary of his creativity as it unfolds on paper.
“I like to say that we only make one movie in our lifetime,” Guillermo del Toro told the Guardian. “A movie made of all the images of all our movies,” he added.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, for a director who won ‘Best Picture’ with a film like The Shape of Water—and a creative who took on Hellboy and The Hobbit film series—del Toro’s sketches lean heavily on the early formation of some of his bizarrely unique characters he would later become synonymous with.
The filmmaker once famously said: “Well, the first thing is that I love monsters, I identify with monsters.”
Enjoy some of Guillermo del Toro’s early monster creations, below. Please bear in mind that one or two of the images include multiple films because they are taken from a working sketchbook. We have tried our best to separate them accordingly, however.
Pan’s Labyrinth, 2006
Official Film Synopsis: “It’s 1944 and the Allies have invaded Nazi-held Europe. In Spain, a troop of soldiers are sent to a remote forest to flush out the rebels. They are led by Capitan Vidal, a murdering sadist, and with him are his new wife Carmen and her daughter from a previous marriage, 11-year-old Ofelia.
“Ofelia witnesses her stepfather’s sadistic brutality and is drawn into Pan’s Labyrinth, a magical world of mythical beings.”
Official Film Synopsis: “At the end of World War II, the Nazis attempt to open a portal to a paranormal dimension in order to defeat the Allies, but are only able to summon a baby demon who is rescued by Allied forces and dubbed ‘Hellboy’.
“Sixty years later, Hellboy serves as an agent in the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, where he, aided by Abe Sapien, a merman with psychic powers, and Liz Sherman, a woman with pyrokinesis, protects America against dark forces.”
The Devil’s Backbone, 2001
Official Film Synopsis: “After losing his father, 10-year-old Carlos arrives at the Santa Lucia School, which shelters orphans of the Republican militia and politicians, and is taken in by the steely headmistress, Carmen, and the kindly professor, Casares.
“Soon after his arrival, Carlos has a run-in with the violent caretaker, Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega). Gradually, Carlos uncovers the secrets of the school, including the youthful ghost that wanders the grounds.”
Hellboy II, 2008
Official Film Synopsis: “Hellboy, his pyrokinetic girlfriend, Liz, and aquatic empath, Abe Sapien, face their biggest battle when an underworld prince plans to reclaim Earth for his magical kindred.
“Tired of living in the shadow of humans, Prince Nuada tries to awaken an ancient army of killing machines to clear the way for fantasy creatures to roam free. Only Hellboy can stop the dark prince and prevent humanity’s annihilation.”
At The Mountains of Madness, 2016
An adaptation of a science fiction-horror novella by American author H. P. Lovecraft of the same name.
Official Film Synopsis: “In the uncharted regions of the Antarctic, dark secrets slumber. An ancient horror lies hidden in the bowels of an alien city, and two unlucky explorers race unwittingly towards it.”
Pacific Rim, 2013
Official Film Synopsis: “Long ago, legions of monstrous creatures called Kaiju arose from the sea, bringing with them all-consuming war. To fight the Kaiju, mankind developed giant robots called Jaegers, designed to be piloted by two humans locked together in a neural bridge.
“However, even the Jaegers are not enough to defeat the Kaiju, and humanity is on the verge of defeat. Mankind’s last hope now lies with a washed-up ex-pilot, an untested trainee and an old, obsolete Jaeger.”