Creating cinematic Esperanto: Guillermo del Toro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During what was the most intensely experimental period of his career (1992-2006), Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro crisscrossed cultural and industrial borders in his quest to create productions attuned to the shifting sensitivities of contemporary allegiances. Working within the horror and fantasy genres at a time of rapid, aggressive globalisation, the director continually played with narrative strategies that embraced and transgressed modes of both the classic Hollywood style and European art cinema. This article traces his early filmic experiments that commenced with his first Mexican feature Cronos (1993), continued through the Spanish-Mexican production The Devil’s Backbone (El espinazo del diablo, 2001) and big-budget Hollywood works Mimic (1997), Blade II (2002) and Hellboy (2004). It investigates how these experiments evolved into the complex narrative of Pan’s Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno, 2006), now widely acknowledged as a bold innovation in cinematic language. I will argue that Del Toro’s probes into genre hybridisation, allegorical infusion and the narrative modes of European art cinema and the classic Hollywood style were part of his attempt to create a new cinematic language, a language he called ‘cinematic Esperanto’, one that would transcend national and cultural barriers by reducing the reliance on expositional dialogue that is heavily favoured by Hollywood and replacing it with compositional elements capable of expressing the narrative both visually and symbolically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-103
Number of pages16
JournalFilm International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Guillermo del Toro
  • Cronos
  • globalization
  • Mimic
  • fascism
  • Spanish Civil War
  • The Devil's Backbone
  • Pan's Labyrinth


Dive into the research topics of 'Creating cinematic Esperanto: Guillermo del Toro'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this