Mexico. The country that gave us tacos and tequila. Oh, and most recently, also a host of exceptional filmmakers. Guillermo del Toro not only managed to turn a seemingly rather bizarre set of facts into a successful storyline, but also turned that storyline into a commercial and critical success, that would go on to be nominated for no fewer than 13 Academy Awards.
We are referring, of course, to the box office hit, The Shape of Water, the story of a non-English speaking cleaning woman who falls head over heels in love with a humanoid sea creature that is being detained by the government for experiments in a laboratory.
Apart from raising production funds to the tune of $19.5 million, Guillermo made the story come to life in a way that few would ever be able to imagine.
Spicing It Up
Guillermo del Toro isn’t the first director from Mexico to have grabbed not only the film industry, but also the world’s, attention. In 2015, Alejandro G. Innaritu won an Oscar for Best Director for the movie Birdman, a brilliant high-wire act focusing on the pitfalls and seductive but empty nature of fame and prestige. It explores everything from absolute psychological turmoil to the dark and all-consuming nature of a battle with extreme mental illness and delusion.
As if Birdman wasn’t enough, Innaritu went on to do more of the same in 2016 with The Revenant, a film that not only brought the elements of the mystical and the will to survive together in a wild and emotional way, but also a visual masterpiece that makes the viewer believe that he is actually living the experience.
Birdman and The Revenant both followed in the footsteps of Gravity, a Blockbuster Sci-Fi hit by none other than yet another Mexican Director, one Alfonso Cuaron. Gravity takes the viewer on a deep-space adventure featuring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Bullock portrays the role of a medical engineer on her very first mission to outer space, whilst Clooney prepares for the final flight before retirement.
What unfolds is a nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat gripping sci-fi drama that’s akin to playing for a huge jackpot at a casino online. It tells the intimate story of what happens to the body and the mind when absolute disaster strikes as well as the process that follows when a crucial decision is made: give up or fight to stay alive.
Defying The Odds
If the three storylines, and in fact the three men who made those stories come alive, have anything in common, then it is this: they have pushed their personal limits to the extreme, as well as having pushed the absolute limits of technology, story-telling and photography.
All three men began telling stories and making films when the Mexican industry was at an all-time low in every conceivable way during the latter portion of the 1980’s. Sure, films were being made, but it was mostly cheap ideas and stereotypical Mexican themes.
Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro G. Innaritu and Alfonso Cuaron turned the tide by beginning to make films about important issues like HIV and real-life dramas and experimental horror films scary enough to knock the heeby-jeeby socks off of anyone.
What’s more, they managed to bring true elements of American-Latin literature into the scope of filmmaking. The Mexican influence of the bizarre can be seen like a silver thread, running through all of the above story lines.
The three amigos of the Mexican filmmaking world have managed to take Hollywood by storm and it’s going to be an adventurous ride to see what they will come up with next.