In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds - and remembers.
Guillermo del Toro
In 1536, in Veracruz, Mexico, during the Inquisition, an alchemist builds a mysterious and sophisticated device named Cronos to provide eternal life to the owner. In the present days, the antiques dealer Jesus Gris finds Cronos hidden inside an ancient statue while cleaning it with his granddaughter Aurora. He accidentally triggers the device and soon his wife Mercedes and he note that he has a younger appearance. Out of the blue, the stranger Angel de la Guardia visits Gris's shop and buys the old statue. On the next day, Gris finds his shop trashed and Angel's card on the floor. He pays a visit to Angel that introduces him to the eccentric millionaire De la Guardia that explains the healing power and the eternal life given by Cronos. Angel is sent by De la Guardia to hunt down Gris to get Cronos no matter the costs. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The two De La Guardia characters were deliberately intended to be somewhat unreal, like comic book characters. Guillermo del Toro explains in his commentary that he did this as a sort of revenge against Hollywood films that having Mexican characters that are rather stereotypical. See more »
When Jesús searches for Aurora after she has taken the Cronos, as he walks through two doors, he stops. Behind him, reflected in the glass of the door, is crew and equipment. See more »
Interesting and intriguing take on the vampire genre
Before Guillermo del Toro came to Hollywood to make big budget thrillers such as Mimic and Blade II, he was in Mexico making movies that are truly unique and filled with tension. His directorial debut, Cronos, is a hugely original movie and take on the vampire theme. Guillermo also wrote the screenplay.
The movie opens up with a narrator telling the story of an alchemist who made a metallic, beetle like device (the Cronos) that when placed against skin, has a scorpion like stinger that stabs the person and injects a tiny amount of bloody fluid. The injections cause the alchemist to live for centuries and only dies when he is in line at a bank in Vera Cruz during an earthquake and is crushed by falling debris.
Some time later, an antique dealer, Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi), discovers the Cronos device in the base of an old statue he has acquired. After wondering what the device might be for, he inadvertently sets it off and is pricked by it's stinger. The whole process of watching this happen is fascinating, and you are never quite sure if there is some sort of living insect inside the enclosure, thanks to Guillermo's David Lynch like photography and editing of the scene.
Jesus soon discovers that he has more energy and feels more youthful than he has in ages. But unbeknownst to him, there is an evil and rich old man, Dieter de la Guardia (Claudio Brook) who has been searching for years for the device. He has tracked it down to Jesus' shop and sends his simple minded nephew, Angel de la Guardia (brilliantly portrayed by Ron Perlman), to get the statue that has stored in it, the Cronos device. When the statue turns up empty, Dieter instructs Angel to get the device at any cost.
In the meantime, Jesus has become addicted to using the device. His young granddaughter has noticed him using it and decides for his own good to hide it from him. After spending time with her he realizes that maybe the sacrifices of the device, such as his wife not feeling as youthful as him, or his greedy and manic need to possess and have control of the device, are not worth the benefits.
The story is not fast paced by any means, but the development of the characters is superb. There are also slow moving scenes with huge amounts of tension, in particular a scene where Jesus is at a party where someone had cut himself and cleaned up in the bathroom. Jesus finds himself drawn to the blood that had dripped on the floor and after slowly considering it and getting his face closer to it, he has his cheek against the floor and extends his tongue and licks up the drops!
I have seen the video a couple times, but it is on DVD in region 2 PAL format only. The video is available in both subtitled and dubbed versions. I highly recommend the version with subtitles, because much of the dialogue is already in English. Ron Perlman's character for example speaks very little Spanish.
Perhaps now that Guillermo del Toro is more well known in the US, we will get a region 1 NTSC release on dvd.
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