“Cronos is not in any way a perfect movie, but it’s a movie full of conviction,” Guillermo del Toro tells Mike Goodridge in the latter’s new book, FilmCraft: Directing. “When you make your first movie, whatever mistakes you make are very glaring, but if you have conviction, and I would even say cinematic faith, this also shines through.
“I recently watched Cronos again and I thought, ‘I like this kid,’ he has possibilities. After your first movie, with a little bit of craft, diligence, and more importantly, experience, you learn to make virtues out of some of your defects.
“What I mean is that any first movie has good moments, even if it is not entirely perfect. It can be a filmmaker as famous as you like, such as Stanley Kubrick, whose first film Fear and Desire (1953) is about 70 minutes long and stars Paul Mazursky. It is very stilted, very awkwardly paced, full of stuff that doesn’t work, the actors speak in a patois, and it has a very non-naturalistic rhythm. But what is incredibly fascinating is that the very stilted quality, that artificial rhythm, eventually became Kubrick’s trademark in later films.
“He bypasses it in more naturalistic films like The Killing (1956) and Paths of Glory (1957), but comes back to that type of hyperrealism or strange filtered reality in his later movies, and he is in complete control of it there. Kubrick used the tools he acquired in making other films to transform what you thought was a defect in Fear and Desire into a virtue.”