Book Review: Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities

Welcome to Twisted Tales Studio’s book review of Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebook, Collections and other Obsessions.

Guillermo Del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities
Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities

To the shock of nobody, I have a rather large collection of books about my favourite directors, odd crafts and building techniques sitting on my shelf at home. I thought it might be fun to start including some reviews and recommendations on books and comics that fall in line with the theme of my blog. Where better to start than the book from the director of some of my favourite movies?

Unless you haven’t seen a movie in the past few decades, you have probably heard of Guillermo Del Toro. Some of his more well-known works include Hellboy (2004), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), and The Strain (2014). These are only a few examples, and each of them has Del Toro’s signature style. Much like Tim Burton, Del Toro films tend to have a look that is immediately recognizable.

Immediately when shopping for this book the title caught my attention. Completely by coincidence my blog has a title with a very similar flavor to Del Toro’s book, so of course I needed to order it on the spot. It is amazing how unconsciously we are drawn to other artists with similar sensibilities, even if we do not think about the reason why.

Moving onto the meat of the book, this one is more of a director’s notebook than an art book, so expect more text and interviews and less full spreads of pictures. Through a series of essays and interviews, this book is a comprehensive explanation of Del Toro’s inspiration and techniques he uses to create atmosphere in his films. There are tons of interviews that talk about the creative process behind the production of Del Toro’s movies, and the experiences in his life that influence his creative decisions.  If you are like me and you watch every single extra included on a DVD or Blueray disk, then you will enjoy this book.

Sample Page
Sample Page

As far as the visuals go, this book contains a lot of scans of his notebooks, and some concept art made for the movies are also included. The concepts drawn by Del Toro reflect the visual style that comes out in his movies. Every design element of each film is meticulously planned out, and there is tones of well hidden symbolism if you know where to look. As the reader, you get to see how a few pen and ink sketches scrawled with and endless sea of notes ends up as the final product in a film.

There are also some gorgeous photos of Del Toro’s house and work space. It is filled top to bottom with items collected from around the world, and of course memorabilia from his film sets. Seriously everyone, if I had the funds my home would also look like this. I am a firm believer in artists surrounding themselves in an environment that encourages their creativity.

For fans who love books about movies this is a good one to have in your collection, and it is certainly a must-have for all fans of Del Toro movies.Its easy to pick up and flip through for all the pretty pictures, but I honestly encourage everyone to sit down and actually read the articles. Its not a difficult read, and its an insightful look into film making and the creative process.

The book is bulky, and the price point is high, but this is to be expected with a full colour hard cover, so you really do get what you pay for. I was able to get an excellent deal when I ordered it off amazon and combined the shipping with other books, so I regret nothing about this purchase.

Now if you will excuse me I suddenly feel like digging up my Guillermo Del Toro movie collection and binge watching all of them.

Next up for consideration: The Advanced Art of Stop Motion Animation by Ken A. Priebe.

Among other things, I am in the planning process for making a stop motion puppet, and I like to hoard reference material for things I’ve never made before. Its pretty heavy reading, so hopefully I can get through enough for a proper review soon.



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