Skip to contentKyle Macquarrie

Guillermo del Toro and the essence of heavy metal

Pacific Rim is a ridiculous movie about giant mind-controlled mechs rocket-punching enormous kaiju from another world. It was directed by Guillermo del Toro, and in the director’s commentary he had this to say:

Ishirō Honda, when he started Gojira, he said to his crew, he gathered everybody in the kitchen of his home and he said “listen guys, if anyone here doesn’t believe we’re doing a great movie, that we’re making a great movie with a giant monster, please leave”, and I demand of myself and my crew and my cast the same thing. We have to be unironic. We have to never be postmodern about these things we do. What you see is an exercise in faith and an exercise in law, and I deliver myself completely to every movie I do without a single shred of irony and I wanted my cast to feel that way because you can feel when people don’t believe what they’re doing. You can sense when people don’t believe in that.

I was reminded of this by this tweet from noted metal blog Invisible Oranges, referring to the extraordinary Slugdge:

gastropod-themed progressive death metal band slugdge prove not only that the genre can be ridiculous and savage at the same time, but also that this synchrony makes the music even better

This, to me, is the essence of heavy metal. If you stop to think too hard about e.g. men yelling about vikings over 200bpm blastbeats, the whole thing falls apart, but bypass niceties like “good taste” and you can feel the energy. (This is hardly unique to metal, as anyone who’s been reluctantly dragged to a club, only to find themselves lost to the dancefloor might attest.) Cast aside your cynicism; be unironic and un-postmodern, deliver yourself completely to the music, and you’ll be rewarded.

While I’m hesitant to make any grand statements about how films like Pacific Rim and the best heavy metal qualify as art, they are absolutely full of craft, and that craft shines through and connects in the most visceral way.

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