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Quote of the Week_Guillermo del Toro

“The hardest thing to pull off in art is simplicity”

Guillermo del Toro

I recently watched the film Pan’s Labyrinth on DVD. It’s a beautifully made film set at the end of WWII in Franco’s Spain. The film is about a young girl whose widowed mother has made the decision to marry a Spanish Army Captain. Unhappy with this decision the girl unknowingly opens a gateway into a fantasy world, which may or may not be a creation of her imagination, where she is given the opportunity to dwell, in an exalted position. Eager to change her situation she accepts a series of dangerous challenges to prove her true nature and, as a consequence, gain entry into her fantasy kingdom.

The film is heavy with mythological references and symbolism. Beautifully lit and filmed from two different color palettes: one for the world of reality and the other for the fantasy realms, this is a masterpiece and a recognized classic of its genre. No wonder the director, Guillermo Del Toro has been signed to direct the 2-film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic, The Hobbit.

My nephew, Pat, loaned me the MA (15 years and over in Australia) rated film. A second disk featured 2 hours of extras that I found to be extremely interesting, particularly the directors intelligent and insightful description into the concepts underpinning the film and the way it which he went about achieving his particular vision.

One point worth making is that the film is in Spanish with, in my case, English subtitles. I sometimes find subtitles to be a drag. But the concentration required only brings you further into the ‘reality’ created by the filmmaker. We’re usually so passive when watching films. So I think the extra effort required to follow the so-called foreign language films can shake us out of our slough and result in a more interactive viewing experience.

I’m happy to recommend Pan’s Labyrinth on DVD, particularly when packaged with the second ‘extras’ disk, to all film buffs, particularly those who love fantasy. I only wish I’d seen it on the bit screen.

The great man, Del Toro, made the point that “the hardest thing to pull of in art is simplicity”. I think that comment really hits the mark. It takes years to understand that less is usually more and that what we leave out of the frame is as important as what we leave in. (There’s a couple good quotes there that I’II re-visit in subsequent posts).

And then there’s equipment. It’s great to have really good gear and over the years I’ve been both gear rich and gear poor. There have been times when I’ve owned and carried far more gear than I needed, or used for that matter. These days I try to keep my gear to the minimum I can get away with for a particular job or outing. And I’ve downsized my camera backpack several times over recent years. The lighter it gets, the better I feel and the more often I photograph. Statistically the more often I photograph the more likely I am of making good images, particularly when I’m having fun. And carrying a mountain of gear is no fun at all.

Such simple and easy words to right, yet a very hard lesson to learn. And it’s a lesson that I’ve had to re-learn, numerous times, over the years.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

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