THE BOOK OF LIFE
THE BOOK OF LIFE, a vibrant animated fantasy-adventure, tells the legend of
Manolo, a conflicted hero and dreamer who sets off on an epic quest through
magical, mythical and wondrous worlds in order to reunite with his one true love
and defend his village.
But Manolo and his equally courageous best friend Joaquin are not your typical
Prince Charmings; the object of their affections is far from being your average
princess; and THE BOOK OF LIFE is a fairy tale that doesn't go by the book.
Presenting a grand mythology set in visually spectacular worlds never seen
before, the film brings together director Jorge R. Gutierrez's unique visual
style and a crowd-pleasing mix of adventure, action, comedy, romance and music.
Its journey to the big screen began with, appropriately enough, a friendship.
Producer Brad Booker, a Reel FX development executive, had known Gutierrez for
over a decade and was eager to collaborate with him. The two filmmakers knew the
project needed the perfect creative partner to help guide its path.
Gutierrez's first choice: legendary director, producer and author Guillermo del
Toro, who like Gutierrez hails from Mexico. Gutierrez felt del Toro's authentic
perspective and unique aesthetic sensibility were a perfect match for the film.
Gutierrez and Booker showed up at the home of del Toro, bearing gifts and
artwork from the film. "Jorge arrived with a beautiful trunk filled with skulls,
flowers, and amazing images," del Toro remembers. Del Toro, who is one of
today's busiest and most in-demand filmmakers, was initially hesitant to take on
another assignment, but he was drawn to Gutierrez's vision and stunning imagery.
"Jorge had some beautiful and very powerful keyframes for his story," del Toro
adds. "When I saw these images, we started talking, and little by little I fell
into his trap."
Del Toro was equally impressed by Gutierrez's passion for what would become THE
BOOK OF LIFE. "Jorge is his movie," he says, "and the movie is an imprint of his
personality. Jorge's ideas for THE BOOK OF LIFE started with his connection to
his homeland of Mexico, and presenting an exciting, never-before-experienced
depiction of that country, its people and its traditions - all in a way that
would be accessible to audiences around the world."
Gutierrez, in turn, was quite simply thrilled that del Toro had come aboard as a
producer on THE BOOK OF LIFE. "I feel like I'm getting a Ph.D. in cinema from a
very loving but strict professor," he says of del Toro's involvement in the
Adds producer Brad Booker: "Guillermo brings an authenticity and passion for
this world and story. He's a visionary filmmaker and has been tremendously
supportive of Jorge's ideas."
Also playing a key role in the project's creative journey was 20th Century Fox
Animation, which co-financed, co-developed and oversaw THE BOOK OF LIFE with
Reel FX from its early stages through its theatrical release.
THE BOOK OF LIFE brings together Gutierrez's perspective of his native country
with a story to which everyone can relate. He explains: "This is a very personal
movie. The inspiration comes from my family history and childhood experiences."
Still, Gutierrez admits he embellished some elements. "My grandfather Luis used
to tell me, 'Jorgito, don't ever let the truth get in the way of a good story!'
And that was the moment I fell in love with storytelling."
Gutierrez's passion for the story, characters and their world points to the
film's broad appeal. "If you're telling a story and want it be universal, then
you have to be specific," del Toro explains. "If the filmmaker loves the story
and characters, then audiences will love it. And if a filmmaker feels it's
powerful, more people will love the story he or she is telling because it's
powerful. And that's exactly what Jorge has done with THE BOOK OF LIFE."
One of the many traditions Gutierrez explores for his tale is The Day of the
Dead, a holiday that celebrates the lives of those who came before us. "THE BOOK
OF LIFE is not about The Day of the Dead, but we use it as the canvas on which
we paint our story," Gutierrez explains. "It's more than a holiday; it's a
philosophy. The core belief behind The Day of the Dead is that as long as you
remember those who came before you, and as long as you tell their stories, cook
their dishes, and sing their songs - they're with you. They live inside your
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