Meet Gordon. For the last eight years, he’s worked at the AGO as a visitor services representative, so you might recognize his smiling face at Membership Services or our ticket counter. He’s a major cinema buff with a particular affinity for the works of Guillermo del Toro. He’s been a fan since 1997, when he first saw Mimic. (Think about it—his fandom has been around for twenty years. If it were a person, it could legally drink and possess a driver’s license.)
Gordon recently talked to Laura Robb, the Interpretive Planner for Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters, about what makes del Toro’s films so compelling and what film del Toro newbies should start with.
Laura: Take us back to when you first heard the AGO was showing At Home with Monsters… what was your reaction?
Gordon: Oh my god – I couldn’t believe we were going to do this show. I’d first heard about Bleak House at TIFF, during his master class on Luis Buñuel. And I thought, “Oh my god, we’re finally going to see everything he’s talked about in this house. Is he going to bring the Frankenstein’s monster he mentioned?” My friends who come to these master classes have been asking, “When does it open? You have the membership that lets you bring guests, right?” I’ll put it this way: we’re going to live up there.
Laura: What’s your all-time favourite del Toro film?
Gordon: I’ve got three. The Devil’s Backbone is wonderful. The story, how he shoots it, and the sound editing is some of the best I’ve heard in film. Crimson Peak is another. He captured all of the points of a Gothic romance: the house as a character, the innocent protagonist, the otherworldly person that influences the story. He knows the formula, but he tweaks it, to give it a new perspective – in the end, the female protagonist saves the day. It’s such a beautiful contrast to the genre. And the third is Pacific Rim. I grew up watching Ultraman and the Godzilla movies, so that whole idea of putting on a suit and battling those monsters is great. It’s a total popcorn movie.
Laura: I love Edith in Crimson Peak, because she’s not a typical American female in the late 1800s.
Gordon: Yes – she’s a ghost story writer, she’s happy being her own person, and happier alone. She’s a contrast to other female characters from the period. She doesn’t need to be saved or rescued.
Laura: And then there’s Lucille, Edith’s sister-in-law – she’s a nontraditional female figure too…
Gordon: I think she’s like Mrs. Havisham from Great Expectations on acid. She’s so out there! It’s interesting, because the two actresses – they have similar looks, but they’re completely different women. But del Toro leaves you thinking, “Y’know, Edith could turn out like Lucille, if she didn’t have her gumption or good sense…”
Laura: Is it safe to say this’ll be your favourite AGO show?
Gordon: I think this and David Bowie Is are top, followed by Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time. But I love anything that’s about the movies. To see how a filmmaker is inspired and how they create is going to be really interesting. This one might just pass David Bowie Is.
Laura: How should our visitors who aren’t super familiar with del Toro prepare for At Home with Monsters?
Gordon: Start with Crimson Peak. It’s one of his best. And check out Trollhunters for something a little lighter – it’s so much fun. But I’d start with Crimson Peak. On the surface it’s a ghost story, but there’s so much more to it.
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