Gulliermo del Toro, Report To Cthulhu

Illustration for article titled Gulliermo del Toro, Report To Cthulhu

Guillermo del Toro is bringing H.P. Lovecraft's At The Mountains Of Madness to the big screen in 2010, although it sounds like he'll be juggling duties on that film while trying to make two simultaneous The Hobbit feature films. After working with a vampire, a fairy tale, a red-skinned demon, and a hobbit, he'll be bringing us shoggoths, and it's about damn time. He also wants to stay true to the original source material which he describes as "a National Geographic special on a crew that disappeared in an exploration mission."

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Lovecraft's novella was first collected in serialized form in Astounding Stories, after being rejected by Weird Tales, in the 1930s. If you've tried reading it recently, you'll find that it's filled with some pretty amazing descriptions of things like "ululating horrors" (the shoggoths, who are basically monster slave labor)) and the massive city abandoned by the Elder Things. However, it also is drier than a thousand year old Saltine cracker.

del Toro wants to film that version of the story, even though "iit's a compilation of really dry scientific annotations that happen to be annotating something really scary. There is no character or dramatic thread." So you know, kind of like Cloverfield, except with monsters that will make you crap your pants. Given his track record, we're pretty sure he'd do a spectacular job with this and keep it from devolving into Aliens Vs. Predator. Remember those giant monsters through the portal the Nazis opened up in Hellboy? Yeah, those made us crap our pants too.

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http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2008/01/29/del…">Del Toro To Incite Audiences To 'Madness' With H.P. Lovecraft Project [MTV Movies Blog]

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DISCUSSION

braak
Chris Braak

@Jeff-Minor: There are a number of interesting elements here.

In the first place, horror is a powerful human social elements—since the times of the Greeks, artists have recognized the fact that terror of the unknown and of the supernatural has a bonding-effect on small social groups (it's one of the reasons why horror movies are so popular as date movies). Lovecraft's representation of an infinitely massive and terrifying universe is, in one respect, simply a mechanic for achieving the effect of stimulating social fear.

From a more intellectual/epistemological perspective, part of the point of the stories is to promote the idea of human humility. There doesn't especially need to be any focus on Goodness, because in the first place not all artists are required to talk about all things, but in the second place, there's already a huge body of literature that describes the universe as being full of omnipotent, beneficent entities (it's called religion).

The problem is that this body of religious literature tends to make people think that we're at the center of the universe, and that we occupy some special position in terms of its operating principles. Lovecraft's stories are a way of positing that this simply isn't true: mankind is far from the center of the universe, and the best-case scenario is that those entities that rule the universe won't notice us.

In many ways, this is no different in principle than Sophoclean tragedies like Oedipos Tyrannos, or more frenetic, even less optimistic tragedies like Euripides' Bakkhai.