Guillermo del Toro’s Political Fairy Tales
Keywords:fairy tale, gothic, masculinity, race, disability, queer
While critical attention has largely focused on Del Toro’s overt fairy tale Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Del Toro’s Hollywood films similarly incorporate the mythic, moral and gothic qualities of classic fairy tales. His new fairy tales present vital contemporary lessons embedded in these archetypal journeys – and their audience’s memories. His free borrowings from fairy tales and popular culture deliberately connect the familiar to his uncanny worlds. This construction is most evident in his films Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) and The Shape of Water (2017). The contemporary politics of race, sexuality, gender and environmentalism are embedded within these original Hollywood fairy tales. This essay focuses on the intersecting political messages woven into Hellboy II: The Golden Army and The Shape of Water, messages amplified not obscured by their fairy tale delivery. Through rich textual references, intersections, and hidden subtexts, Del Toro creates new gothic fairy tales, with original protagonists, emerging from the margins. By resisting previous patriarchal and racial boundaries, these films challenge their audiences to embrace new paradigms.
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