‘Devil’s Backbone': Guillermo del Toro reflects on his ‘dearest film’

May 29, 2013 | 5:56 p.m.

Of all the films Guillermo del Toro has made, 2001’s “The Devil’s Backbone,” a gothic horror movie set during the Spanish Civil War, might be his most personal.

Some 16 years in the making, the film, which chronicles what happens when a young fatherless boy arrives at a haunted orphanage, was among the first Del Toro wrote as a young man. During an interview at the Hero Complex Film Festival in Hollywood this month he said the screenplay failed to win him instant praise.

“It was very different. … The story had similar points, but it was very, very different,” Del Toro said, taking the stage between screenings of “The Devil’s Backbone” and “Pan’s Labyrinth,” his Academy Award-winning dark fantasy set during Fascist Spain.

“Instead of a ghost, there was a Christ with three arms,” Del Toro said. “Very, very weird, but it was beautiful. … I gave up on it originally. When I wrote the screenplay, my screenplay teacher … said the margins are wrong and tossed it in the wastebasket and I had no copies.'”

Watch the video above to see Del Toro explain how the process of finally directing “The Devil’s Backbone” years later helped him find the joy in making movies again after a “harrowing” experience on his giant insect thriller “Mimic.”

The Hero Complex Film Festival kicked off May 10 at the Chinese 6 Theatres with a John Carpenter double feature and feisty Q&A. Saturday afternoon brought a screening of “The Mist” and a discussion of that film’s shocking ending with writer-director Frank Darabont and surprise guest Thomas Jane.

The final day of the event closed with a featured screening of “Independence Day” and conversation with director Roland Emmerich, producer Dean Devlin, star Jeff Goldblum and effects wizard Volker Engel. That was followed by a 20th anniversary tribute to “The X-Files” with creator Chris Carter and two of the series’ writers, Glen Morgan and Darin Morgan, and showings of three fan-picked episodes.

– Gina McIntyre

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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