Book Review: Guillermo del Toro: The Iconic Filmmaker and His Work by Ian Nathan

“A complete and intimate study of the life and work of one of modern cinema’s most truly unique directors, whose distinct aesthetic and imagination are unmatched in contemporary film.”

Guillermo del Toro: The Iconic Filmmaker and His Work is an unauthorised and unofficial biography by Ian Nathan of one of modern cinema’s most truly unique directors. A complete and intimate study of the life and work of Guillermo del Toro, the book charts the progression of a career that has produced some of contemporary cinemaโ€™s most revered scenes and idiosyncratic characters.


Thank you to NetGalley for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A celebration of one of my favourite directors, Guillermo del Toro: The Iconic Filmmaker and His Work is a perfect gift for any cinema lover – an artistically beguiling and brilliantly researched biography that explores the fantastical imagination of a true master of modern cinema.

Beginning in Mexico where del Toro grew up as a creative but isolated child, the book looks at his early influences and experiences then goes on to examine his filmography, from his 1993 debut Cronos to his Oscar award-winning Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water, leading up to his upcoming projects, Nightmare Alley and Pinocchio.

The book also includes many photographs of the director at work on set as well as iconic stills from his films. These alone make for a fascinating read as del Toro’s films are always so strikingly aesthetic. From the swampy-hued set designs contrasting with splashes of blood-red, the superior practical effects, to the nightmarish monsters that come from del Toro’s obsession with folklore and paganism, his films are always a piece of art in themselves.

I really enjoyed getting to do know more about a director that I love, learning about his influences, and getting some masterful insight on some of my favourite films.

If you love gothic historical tales and dark fairytales, I thoroughly recommend checking out some of del Toro’s work if you haven’t already. My three favourite films are:

1. Pan’s Labyrinth

A stunning film that perfectly balances a world of make-believe against the violent but ‘real’ scenes of war, allowing the viewer to escape into the fantasy as well. With extremely well-designed sets and imaginative creatures, the film verges on horror in places (I can’t watch the ‘pale man’ scene without the light on!), and successfully builds up tension and suspense throughout. With brilliant drama alongside this, you will be on the edge of your seat throughout.

2. Crimson Peak

A real ghost story full of grotesque monsters, gorgeous costumes, and haunting sets lit up by candlelight. The tone and pace are set superbly, completely immersing you in this incredibly atmospheric gothic horror.

3. The Shape Of Water

A refreshingly told story with remarkable performances and an enchanting score that pulls you deep under the water. A simply mesmerising story that feels like an elegant dance underwater, this is a brilliant tribute to old Hollywood monster movies.


Guillermo del Toro: The Iconic Filmmaker and His Work by Ian Nathan
Release Date: 9th November 2021
Print Length: 176 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction / Film Director Biography
Publisher: Quarto Publishing Group / White Lion Publishing

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