Coming from Fox Animation Studios this Halloween, The Book of Life, produced by the wonderfully prolific Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro, is an animation lover’s dream. Set in the land of the living, the land of the remembered, and the land of the dead, this film draws its art direction from the colourful traditions surrounding Dia de Los Muertos, the Central American day to celebrate and remember the deceased. I love that the characters in the land of the living look like caricatures that have an uncanny woodcut look to them, as if they were marionettes, while the denizens of the lands of the deceased are full of vibrant colours and symbols paying homage to the beautiful iconography surrounding the Day of the Dead, making them feel much more alive then the living. However, As the title suggests, this movie is about Life more than Death, and Manolo’s decision to leave behind unlimited churros in the land of the remembered to journey back to his beloved Maria.
The voice cast is diverse. Our hero Manolo is played by Elysium‘s Diego Luna, his lady love Maria is played by Star Trek‘s Zoe Saldana, and the obnoxious competition for Maria’s affection Joaquin is played by he’s in everything these days Channing Tatum. Other voice actors of note include Danny Trejo, Ron Perlman, Christina Applegate, and of course, character voice actress extraordinaire Grey DeLisle. She makes the cartoons happen!
In true Hollywood fashion, Disney/Pixar also has a film concerning the Day of the Dead in the works. Recently they ran into severe backlash when they tried to copyright the phrase Dia de Los Muertos. Oh Disney, you can’t always get what you want! After severe public rebuke, they withdrew their copyright filing and changed the name of their film (currently unannounced), slated to come out an entire year after The Book of Life. I never did get the whole desire for Hollywood to copy one another, as if we really want to see two movies about bugs (Bug’s Life and Ants) or fish (Finding Nemo and Shark Tale) or Snow White in quick succession (I didn’t even want to see one version of Snow White). Still, I guess the one who gets to the finish line first gets the prize, and with a film looking this good I’m sure it won’t have any problems at the box office.
The Book of Life comes out Halloween 2014.