It is not uncommon for a director to move between modestly budgeted personal projects and larger-scale genre films. However, there is something both peculiar and provocative about the trajectory of Guillermo del Toro’s career to date. This is not just to do with his leaping back and forth between Spanish-language “art-house” projects and English-language multiplex fare rather than proceeding from the former to the latter in what would be a more conventional mode of international career development. It also connects with del Toro’s own repeated insistence in interviews and in DVD commentaries that for him all his films, be they in Spanish or in English, are personal projects. Perhaps most strikingly, the challenge offered by the shape of del Toro’s career comes out of the way in which his films often confound or complicate distinctions between what we might think of as art cinema and genre cinema. After all, this is a director whose first feature, Cronos (1993), combined art-house and horror conventions and was shot partly in Spanish and partly in English.
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