Life has been good for director Guillermo del Toro lately. His 2006 film “Pan’s Labyrinth” was widely acclaimed by critics (winning three Academy Awards), and he was recently tapped to direct the two Hobbit films (under the watchful eye of Peter Jackson). In between these two momentous events comes the July release of “Hellboy II: The Golden Army”, which continues to mine the rich themes of myth, faith, choice, and the imagination.
“I think it’s the primal motor of human endeavor,” said del Toro about his fascination with exploring mythology and fantasy in his films. “All human endeavor: spiritual, physical, social. I think myth makes humans what we are, it is the essence of being human, the capacity to invent. No raccoon worships the god of the trash can and we do. There are plenty of people that worship in search of a spiritual meaning. Anyone that says, ‘Okay, we are this or that many chromosomes away from being an ape,’ they should consider imagination as one thing that is a huge chasm between us.”
The old, horned, king of the otherworld.
In this follow-up to the 2004 cult-hit, del Toro seems to be expanding on his fascination with the fairy-inhabited “otherworld” from “Pan’s Labyrinth”. This time with the threat of an all-out war between fairy-folk and humanity. Hellboy creator, and film co-writer, Mike Mignola, compares fae/human tensions in the movie to the history of American Indian struggles.
“The focus is more on the folklore and fairy tale aspect of Hellboy. It’s not Nazis, machines and mad scientists but the old gods and characters who have been kind of shoved out of our world. I kind of equate it to the whole American Indian situation. The Indians were shoved onto reservations. You had your old, wise Indians who said, “You know, this is the way it is. We can’t fight anymore. We just have to accept our fate.” You then have your Geronimo character saying, “Or we could just kill the White Man.” That’s kind of the situation we have in the film. We have our elf characters resigning to the way things are and then there’s one saying, “Or we could take the world back.” The main difference is – what if the Indians had a nuclear warhead? The elves have their equivalent of the weapon that is too terrible to use. What if this guy decided to use it?”
Building on that theme, a viral marketing web site called HETFET, Humans for the Ethical Treatment of Fairies, Elves, and Trolls, has emerged.
“We know that every minute of every day, all across the world, terrible crimes are taking place all around us. But the victims of these crimes can’t ask for help because humanity turns a deaf ear to the segment of society that we once called “mythical creatures.” Not anymore. At HETFET, it is our unwavering belief that these misunderstood beings deserve the same rights as those given to animals or people. No more, no less; just the right to coexist and be left alone.”
Needless to say, the Pagan overtones of the site, complete with a real petition to save old-growth forests, are palpable. With the otherworldly action, a film preview sporting massive pre-historic Venus figurines, and a trip through a “Troll market” (not to mention a horned god/king!), this Hellboy film is shaping up to be a real treat for the Pagan film-goer. I’m very much looking forward to seeing it in July.