Guillermo del Toro’s Guide to the Collection

Inside Criterion / On the Channel — Feb 12, 2018

Guillermo del Toro’s love for movies is infectious, and you can feel it not only in the inspiration his work draws from classic films but also in his passionate advocacy for a wide range of cinema, including a number of titles in our collection. Last year was a busy one for the Mexican director, but while he was in the process of making the fantastical romance The Shape of Water—now nominated for thirteen Academy Awards—he took time out to join us for an episode of Adventures in Moviegoing. For this exclusive series on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, he talked with MythBusters’ Adam Savage about his journey as a cinephile and also served as a guest curator, bringing together films that have influenced his dazzlingly imaginative aesthetic. With The Shape of Water still in theaters, we’re sharing these heartfelt appreciations of eleven of his personal favorites.

Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast (1946)

“One of the most magical films ever made, one that truly is in love with the sublime, sophisticated, Freudian quality that a fairy tale really has.”

Joel and Ethan Coen’s Blood Simple (1984)

Blood Simple contains most, if not all, of the preoccupations the Coens will articulate throughout their career . . . It’s a perfect first movie.”

Felipe Cazals’s Canoa: A Shameful Memory (1976)

Canoa was part of the generation of films that changed Mexican cinema . . . The screenplay is one of the most brilliant ever written . . . Formally and thematically, it absolutely changes the game of what a Mexican movie was able to portray: it breaks with censorship, it breaks with formal rigidity and with what the state-funded cinema considered sanctionable.”

Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face (1960)

“[The main character is] like an undead Audrey Hepburn. It influenced me a lot with the contrast between beauty and brutality.”

Carl Th. Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932)

“The camera becomes a character in the film. It’s more than a witness, it’s an active participant in the narrative, and therefore it’s deeply cinematic.”

Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

“There is a haphazard chaos that this version has that I find completely charming . . . You can feel that [Hitchcock] is bringing all the tools of the trade that he acquired in England for one great romp.”

Jean Renoir’s La chienne (1931)

“Renoir is, above anything else, a humanist, and he doesn’t judge anyone. There is an all-encompassing good will toward humanity in his films.”

Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana (1961)

Viridiana reconstructs Buñuel in many ways; it reencounters his identity as a Spanish filmmaker and allows him to regain European prestige, and later allows him to shoot movies everywhere in the world. But it comes at a point when, I believe, he needed it the most.”

Masaki Kobayashi’s Kwaidan (1965)

“It’s a fairy tale that is both incredibly scary and incredibly beautiful and talks about love and death with equal passion.”

Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits (1981)

“With Gilliam, you feel that Time Bandits is a story that must have been with us for centuries . . . There is an incredible humor, an incredible cruelty, and an insatiable desire for fun and creativity that embodies, for me, what a kids’ movie should be like.”

Víctor Erice’s The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

The Spirit of the Beehive is a movie that transformed my life. Whatever I do in life, two shadows are cast upon my own: one is James Whale’s Frankenstein, and the other one is Víctor Erice’s The Spirit of the Beehive, and they are both one and the same. “