by Samantha Rodes
Many a year ago, life as I knew it became dispensable. The world seemed dark, cruel, and
unfair. My body was sick, my mind torn. At the core, my heart and soul were broken, and
I was ready to throw everything away. When the will is beaten to submission, and the
spirit chained into defeat, it takes almost a miracle for them to be saved.
And that is what happened.
During this time, I was unwell, and shall simply summarize that period as nothing more
than a time of darkness. And you see, were it not for the very miracle of which I speak, I
would never have gained the sight to traverse through the shadows and into the light.
By some fortuitous circumstance, I was able to come across what ordinarily be seen as an
atypical sort of thing. There I was, a wraith of a being, watching with feverish, hungry
eyes, the very thing that would come to be my anchor in the storm.
Or rather, a very special movie, one that would serve as a stepping-stone into the
beginnings of my recovery.
The film in particular that I had seen was Hellboy II: The Golden Army. While I shall
spare the details of the film itself, I will attest that it stirred something that had been
slumbering within me.
Growing up, I was a sprite, active, creative little thing. I adored dragons and dinosaurs
and dancing and martial arts. I took my creativity and wove tapestries of adventures that
occurred in long forgotten realms that paralleled our own. In these places, I was a hero,
riding my mighty dragon into the great beyond, without a care in the world. But when the
dismal period of darkness soon loomed in like the rolling, thunderous clouds of a storm, I
fell off my dragon, and plunged into a hellish abyss.
But this film was the call to my dragon. No, even more so, it was a spell. When cast, it
incited a sudden transformation within me.
I soon found myself becoming the dragon.
And like a dragon, I fought against the grip of fear and confinement. I rebelled against the
pain and abuse I had endured. I fought for no one but myself, and earned my wings. My
words were like fire, and I burned down every obstacle that stood in my way.
During this time, I sought to learn more about the world of Hellboy and the man
responsible for its manifestation on the screen. His name was Guillermo Del Toro.
My curiosity pressed me to learn about his vision, and other works of his doing. From
Hellboy II I skipped backward and watched the first film. From there, I reached out to
more of his films- Cronos, the Devil’s Backbone, and, finally, what I consider to be one
of my personal favorite works of cinematic genius, Pan’s Labyrinth. And I did not stop
at the films. I wanted to see what occurred behind the lens- how did they design the weird
and fantastic creatures that populated these works, what mentality went behind them all,
why were particular decisions made? From behind the scenes documentaries, I soon
graduated to watching the films with a commentary.
And it was the commentaries that truly saved me.
“Hi, I’m Guillermo Del Toro,” said a calm, scholarly voice, a voice that would soon
passionately point out with glee every nuance and thought process that came into the
making of a particular scene. I would grow to learn so much about not only this director’s
films, or even the craft of filmmaking itself, but the man himself. Many of his fans
(myself counting amongst them) can attest that he is very open and enthusiastic about his
craft, whether it be his films, future projects, or writings. As I, the dragon, came to
evolve, it was this man and his commentaries and films that helped me to survive.
I can recall many long, tense nights, when the outcome of the following day’s
tribulations was too uncertain to predict (or even prepare for), listening to and inevitably
falling asleep to his voice. It seemed to placate my fears, at least for the moment before I
would spend what felt like decades in my dreams.
To this day, I will always consider him as a spiritual father figure.
My personal goals and ambitions differ from one another, but they all share a
connectedness through my transformation during my person age of darkness. They are
the seeds I have grown from that time, and are still little buds that I water day by day.
This nourishment comes in the form of sharing my passions with the world. While the
introvert in me is at times appalled by the notion of strangers looking upon my work and
staring me straight in the eye, the dragon knows that surrendering to this aspect of my
nature serves no purpose towards the construction of my dreams. As much as I relish in
immersing myself in blissful isolation, the urge to spread my own interests and passions
burns deep into my core. This almost primal, fiery urge compels me to connect with
others, to share in a common adoration for the things that transfix the eye and stimulate
the soul. The things I love become far greater when I can admire them with others like
“I really think one of the main impulses of anybody that loves the fantasy genre is to
propagate it. To continue the sharing of love of movies or love of books or love of
any aspects of the fantastic that you can. That’s very much the impulse of anyone
that loves the genre for any reason.”
- Guillermo Del Toro, Wall Street Journal
And so, I will always be grateful for the man who, essentially, stirred within me the force
that compelled me to realize that life was worth living, that I deserved to live, that I had a
story to tell.
My journey is far from over, yet I contribute much of its beginnings to this brilliant,
kind, imaginative man, Guillermo Del Toro, my spiritual father and fellow artist.