The following is one of the entries from my list of the 100 greatest films (through 2006) from Africa, Latin America & the Caribbean, which I invite you to visit on this site if you haven’t already done so. — Dennis
Fifteen minutes long, the animated El octavo día de la creación belongs to a genre to which Mexican cinema lays great claim: violent fantasy-horror. (The opening credits list the master, Guillermo del Toro, as a “presenter.”) Directors Juan José Medina and Rita Basulto have imagined darkly both the Creator (who somewhat resembles del Toro!) and his creations. The animation itself, even apart from the particular form that the animation takes, reduces these to the absurd.
The Creator’s workshop is located in a dark dungeon. The film opens, though, with the Creator seated on a throne, asleep, beseiged by a nightmare of his creation thus far. The image is enrobed in black—the film’s predominant “color.” There’s a faint, sickly olive hue to the Creator’s clay “flesh,” and his hair, red and wiry, is agitated, as if possessed of a life of its own—like the beast that attacks him in his dream. In the dungeon he appears to be facing us; but when the shot is brought into focus, we see him standing in front of a mirror, engrossed by the swollen, grotesque thing—himself—in whose image he will create something new to immortalize himself. Bronze and browns give the dungeon a harsh metallic appearance; it is a loveless place. The Creator’s clay hand scoops out and squeezes an oozing glob of clay. On one level, the Creator represents the filmmakers; the glob, this film of theirs before it took shape.
Amidst the creepy-crawlies with which the workshop is infested, the Creator’s new creation comes to horrific life, a creature such as Goya might have imagined, and leads the creepy-crawlies in attacking the Creator, chaining him up, his manacled arms outstretched. Grunting/sighing throughout, the Creator no longer emits even a wisp of a sound.
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