Friday, 23 November 2012

Guillermo de Toro on darkness in children's films

I really have to agree with this. Some of my favourite films as a kid had really evil villains. It is surprisingly reassuring when they meet a fitting end, and I find I am always nervous when an evil character just gets away and isn't punished. One of my favourite movie villains as a kid was Rasputin in Anastasia, a rotting corpse in limbo who often falls to bits. Some of the scenes really scared me, but I watched it time and time again. 

I am a huge fan of del Toro's frighteningly beautiful imagination and was blown away by his imagining of the Goblin Market in Hellboy 2. I also loved that movie because the villain had an understandable purpose, trying to preserve the last magical creatures that humans destroy as "monsters".

Read the whole article here:

"What's the biggest mistake people make in telling stories about children, or for children?
Well, I think that one of the things is to actually try and create a sense of darkness in the tale. A lot of people just make this sanitized super happy-go-lucky, "bright sunshine and clouds" type of childhood movies. And you really need an element of the dark in it. In the case of Kung Fu Panda 2, we really came up with a psychotic, sociopathic villain. In the case of [Rise of the] Guardians, we have Pitch, which is an incredibly sophisticated and articulate guy that tries to control your fear. In the case of Puss in Boots, we had a bad guy who was Humpty, who was capable of changing and capable of doing a good action at the end. He was incredibly neurotic.
Guillermo del Toro explains the biggest mistake people make in telling stories for childrenAnd I think that people don't acknowledge that kids have all these sides. Kids are neurotic, kids deal with fear, kids are confronted by really hostile impulses from the adults around them and the other kids, and you know, movies should acknowledge all this and create these fables that help them deal with those things."


  1. To think 'children' as the synonym of 'idyllic' is just plain naive. Kids start playing their little power games very early, and I also remember my friend being very interested in restricted horror movies when we were 7 or 8 years old. She would explain the plot of 'Friday the 13th' which I back then thought as an attempt to shock me, but now I've realized that she needed these horror stories to deal with the monsters of her own life. We all needed.

  2. At some point it seems people decided that everything marketed at children had to be really sanitized and empty of meaning. Not just in movies (I've always been a wuss about scary films) but even in books and other things. I loved Roald Dahl's books as a kid, and he had some weird, dark villains, which I'm not sure would be published today.