Reel FX Animation and 20th Century Fox open the pages of “The Book of Life” and present a grand mythology set in visually spectacular worlds never seen before. The film brings together director Jorge R. Gutierrez’s unique visual style and a crowd-pleasing mix of adventure, action, comedy, romance and music with a voice cast as lively as their animated characters – Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Christina Applegate, Diego Luna, Ice Cube, Ron Perlman and Hector Elizondo.
“The Book of Life,” a vibrant animated fantasy-adventure, tells the legend of Manolo (Luna), a conflicted hero and dreamer who sets off on an epic quest through magical, mythical and wondrous worlds in order to reunite with his one true love Maria (Saldana) and defend his village. But Manolo and his equally courageous best friend Joaquin (Tatum)are not your typical Prince Charmings; the object of their affections is far from being your average princess; and “The Book of Life” is a fairy tale that doesn’t go by the book.
Its journey to the big screen began with, appropriately enough, a friendship. Producer Brad Booker, a Reel FX development executive, had known Gutierrez (known for the multiple Emmy and Annie winning series “El Tigre, The Adventures of Manny Rivera” for Nickelodeon which he created with his wife) for over a decade, and after hearing of the project, Booker believed Reel FX would be a great home for it. The independent animation studio knew that the film needed the perfect creative partner to help guide its path and development. Gutierrez’s first choice: legendary director, producer and author Guillermo del Toro, who like Gutierrez hails from Mexico. Gutierrez felt del Toro’s authentic perspective and unique aesthetic sensibility were a perfect match for the film.
Del Toro was equally impressed by Gutierrez’s passion for what would become “The Book of Life.” “Jorge is his movie,” he says, “and the movie is an imprint of his personality. Jorge’s ideas for “The Book of Life” started with his connection to his homeland of Mexico, and presenting an exciting, never-before-experienced depiction of that country, its people and its traditions – all in a way that would be accessible to audiences around the world.”
Adds producer Brad Booker: “Guillermo brings an authenticity and passion for this world and story. He’s a visionary filmmaker and has been tremendously supportive of Jorge’s ideas.” “The Book of Life” brings together Gutierrez’s perspective of his native country with a story to which everyone can relate. He explains: “This is a very personal movie. The inspiration comes from my family history and childhood experiences.”
Still, Gutierrez admits he embellished some elements. “My grandfather Luis used to tell me, ‘Jorgito, don’t ever let the truth get in the way of a good story!’ And that was the moment I fell in love with storytelling.” Gutierrez’s passion for the story, characters and their world points to the film’s broad appeal. “If you’re telling a story and want it be universal, then you have to be specific,” del Toro explains. “If the filmmaker loves the story and characters, then audiences will love it. And if a filmmaker feels it’s powerful, more people will love the story he or she is telling because it’s powerful. And that’s exactly what Jorge has done with “The Book of Life.”
“The Book of Life” opens October 16 in cinemas (2D and 3D) nationwide from 20th Century Fox thru Warner Bros.