By now, you know at least a little bit about The Book of Life. (If not, take a moment to read about the film’s Latino cast and its soundtrack filled with Latinized covers of Radiohead and Biz Markie.)
Last week, I got the opportunity to check out the Dia de Muertos-themed movie and I can authoritatively say that The Book of Life is the most heartwarming, visually stimulating, lovely, witty, original, best-costumed and perfectly scored animated movie of all time. Yeah, I loved it.
You need to experience this 3-D marvel yourself. Here are five fun facts about the Guillermo del Toro-produced film that should propel you into a theater to watch this labor of loooove, directed by Jorge Gutierrez.
When writer and first-time feature film director, Jorge R. Gutierrez, was given the opportunity to pitch his film to the famed director-producer Guillermo del Toro, he was told he had 20 minutes. Mr. del Toro narrowed it down to five. When Gutierrez was done, del Toro told him, “That was a really terrible pitch. But I can see your world. Of course, I will produce you.” Gutierrez describes the moment that del Toro gave him the green light as, “I felt like a ten year-old kid dressed like Robin, and [the real] Batman suddenly pulled over and yelled: get in!”
At its core, The Book of Life is a love story based on the Day of the Dead. What makes it unique is that it goes way beyond romantic love. It speaks to how we can love, with joy, those we have lost. It speaks to the love we feel for all those pesky people who are still alive but sometimes difficult to love. Ultimately, it speaks to how we can love ourselves through… acceptance. Like Mr. del Toro aptly put it, “The message is to live.” He also said, “Punk is the new romance.” Take his word for it.
P.S. Bring your pañuelito to the theater.
With the constant chatter about Hollywood’s lack of diversity, we would like to point out that The Book of Life showcases diverse casting at its finest. It has an old-school heavy hitter (Hector Elizondo), a new school trailblazer (Diego Luna), an about to explode comedian (Anjelah Johnson), an established Mr. Anything (Ice Cube), a Mexican charmstress (Kate del Castillo), a mainstream funny lady (Christina Applegate), a Dominican Avatar (Zoe Saldaña), a crazy killer (Danny Trejo), a 70s stoner (Cheech Marin) and of course a striptease master (Channing Tatum). ‘Nuff said.
The Music, original and reeeeemixed
The production tapped Argentine Academy Award-winning composer Gustavo Alfredo Santaolalla and Paul Williams for original scores and sweet sweet love songs. In addition you’ll hear a handful of pop hits reimagined and delightfully executed by the cast and a slightly drunk tenor. (By tenor, we mean Plácido Effing Domingo.)
SPOILER: Diego Luna sings Radiohead’s “Creep” and it is not creepy. It is… [sigh] swoon worthy.
“Mexico is the center of the universe.” — Narrator
Always nice to be reminded.
“I belong to no one.” — María
She’s the Catholic-schooled, kung fu-fighting female lead.
When you enter the “Land of the Remembered” you will wish you were dead.
Gutierrez designed all of the men’s costumes, his wife designed what the ladies wear and BOTH designed La Muerte. (See? Everything in this film was done with loooove.) Look at La Muerte’s dress. I. DIE.
Do yourself a favor and go watch this movie. Cynics, don’t fight it. You can prove your cleverness tomorrow. Today go out and celebrate love, kids. Celebrate love.
The Book of Life opens in theaters on October 17, 2014.