Jorge San Román / San Rafael
A year of preparation, four months of shooting and six months of postproduction have been necessary for Guillermo del Toro to perform “The Labyrinth of the Faun”, which he considers his most mature film and of which he feels most proud. The film, shot entirely in locations of San Rafael and El Espinar, has been chosen by the Mexican Film Academy to represent that country among the nominees for the award for best non-English-speaking film at the Oscars ceremony.
“The labyrinth of the faun” places us in the year 1944, fifth year of peace, and tells of the exciting journey of Ophelia (Ivana Baquero), a 13-year-old girl who, along with her mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil), convalescent because from an advanced state of gestation, he moves to a small town, in which Vidal (Sergi López), a cruel captain of the Franco army, Carmen’s new husband and for whom Ophelia feels no affection, stands out.
Vidal’s mission is to end the last vestiges of republican resistance hidden in the mountains of the area. Also there, there is the mill where Vidal has its operations center, Mercedes (Maribel Verdú) is waiting for them, a young woman who is in charge of the other members of the service and the doctor (Alex Angulo) who will take care of the Carmen’s delicate state of health.
One night, Ophelia discovers the ruins of a labyrinth where she meets a faun (Doug Jones), a strange creature that makes an incredible revelation: Ophelia is actually a princess, last of her lineage, to which her own carry a lot waiting time. In order to return to her magical kingdom, the girl must face three trials before the full moon. In the course of this mission, fantasy and reality embrace to unleash a wonderful story where the magic that surrounds Ophelia transports us to a unique universe, full of adventures and full of emotion.
Born in Jalisco (Mexico) in 1964, Guillermo del Toro has practically spent his entire life in cinema, and has combined his work as a director and screenwriter with his renowned work as a producer and artist in special effects. His productions have not been limited to the cinematography of his country, having worked with the Hollywood industry in films such as “Mimic” and “Hellboy”, and for cinematographies such as Spanish, with titles such as “The Devil’s Backbone.”
If we immerse ourselves in Guillermo del Toro’s work, we find that the main references of “The Labyrinth of the Faun” come less from the films that have impressed him the most, and more from literature and painting.
I’ve always been very influenced by Goya, especially for his black paintings that are, for me, the most impressive. The painting of “Saturn devouring his son”, for example, was for me one of the main inspirations for the Pale Man, one of the main characters of The Labyrinth. But for the general environment I drew on the works of illustrator Arthur Rackham. I tried to connect with the perversity and sexual content of his work and achieved something very intense and visceral, which was perfect for “The Labyrinth of the Faun”. This required a lot of work, both in the construction of the sets, which had to be scrupulously detailed, delicate, and in the choice of colors.
Together with Eugenio Caballero, the art director, we build everything, from beginning to end, from the smallest corner to the entire room … In total we build 34 different sets, each more sumptuous than the previous one. Eugenio did a fabulous job. To capture the world that I wanted to show, it was also necessary to take great care of the atmosphere of the film’s light. Guillermo Navarro, my cinematographer and old friend, and I understand each other perfectly.
For the Faun, I wanted something as organic as possible, with its body covered with leaves and branches, as if it were really part of nature, an appearance as real as possible, almost without using special effects, a special technique that I believe It has not been seen before in cinema. Everything was done on the set, with the help of animatronics, which are used for the first time in Spanish cinema, especially for such a complex creature. The pale man was originally conceived as a skeletal man with hanging skin. After some changes, I placed my eyes on the palms of the pale man, who would show them like feathers of a royal bird in front of his face. This was the birth of a more surreal monster. But despite the elaboration of special effects, These two creatures would not have had the same impact without the interpretation of my friend Doug Jones, a professional mime who had previously played Abe Sapiens in “Hellboy.” And that’s not all! In the movie there are even more creatures, like a giant toad and fairies like you’ve never seen, much more cunning and cheater than Peter Pan’s!
Despite this innovative and magnificent visual artifice, Guillermo del Toro has never intended to make “The Labyrinth of the Faun” a fantastic film, but has decided from the beginning to direct the film to a wider audience.
I have always preferred hybrid, mixed genres. Like, for example, the combination of terror with a historical plot. For me “The Labyrinth of the Faun” is, therefore, a drama that has its roots in a context of war, with mythological and fairytale elements inserted. Even these creatures that I am especially fond of are not the most important. Because, above all, this film is based on a deeply human and dramatic story. A story that raises universal issues that concern us all.
What made you choose our villages to place the action of “The Labyrinth of the Faun”?
The pine trees serve as the setting for the different moments of the filmLook, first we were doing a reference scouting, because we really went to the Pyrenees, to the whole northern part of Spain, looking for the locations. Then, with the production consciousness that we had to find similar places near Madrid, I found that the entire landscape around Madrid was very transformed, very little care. Suddenly, we arrived in Segovia and we met El Espinar and San Rafael, perfectly preserved places, with absolutely mythical landscapes, where we could shoot, and that had easy access and people absolutely in favor of the work. All that is what led us to film there, and I can tell you that the film would not exist if it were not for San Rafael and El Espinar. And what I found there, in addition to a mother pig suckling pig, that I consumed almost every day in a brutal and energetic way, it was people who were open to the cinema, who supported the cinema, and I think we made close friends between the forest guards and the townspeople. I had the pleasure of reading the proclamation at the San Rafael festivities, and even getting a little fart, with a lemonade to use that had a high alcohol content and very little lemon …