With Valentine’s Day right behind us, now’s the perfect time to revisit Guillermo del Toro’s chilling and sumptuous gothic romance, Crimson Peak. After opening to disappointing box office returns, this criminally underrated film is now on Blu-ray and DVD with a pristine transfer, immersive surround sound mix, and a bunch of great special features including a commentary from the maestro himself.
Commentaries are an incredibly valuable resource for any film fan, offering insight into the details of how your favorite movies came to life. Del Toro always does great commentaries, so to give you a taste, here are the five coolest things we learned about Crimson Peak from Guillermo del Toro’s commentary. Beware of spoilers!
1. Del Toro Wants Us to Think More About the Power of Images
“I think that film has a narrative power beyond [the] screenplay. The real story in a movie you should be able to basically watch with the volume down. The rest is dramaturgy, and I value it a lot… But I like making movies that are very rich worlds with very simple plots.”
Del Toro is on a quest to get us out of thinking of film just as a narrative medium, to pay attention to the details. Even his big, fun action movies are packed to the gills with detail (especially color) that helps tell the story non-verbally. Watch closely!
2. Much of the Film’s Wallpaper Was Custom Designed
Del Toro and his crack team of artists and production designers had wallpaper custom made for the Crimson Peak‘s sets. One distinct wallpaper was borrowed, though — check out the wallpaper in the hallway outside Edith’s bedroom. It’s the same wallpaper from the foyer of Disney’s Haunted Mansion! Check it out above.
3. One Ghostly Scene is Based on Guillermo del Toro’s Personal Experiences
One of Crimson Peak‘s tensest moments happens when Edith hears the sounds of a murder and follows them into the master bathroom at Allerdale Hall. Much to her horror, she finds the ghost of Thomas and Lucille’s mother in the bathtub!
The scene was inspired by something that happened to del Toro when he was in New Zealand, scouting locations for the Hobbit films (back before Peter Jackson returned to direct). While resting in his hotel room and watching The Wire on DVD, del Toro heard the distinct sound of someone being murdered. Scared out of his wits, he traced the sound to his bathroom vent. As it turns out, the hotel had a bit of a reputation for being haunted.
4. Why Does Edith Stab Lucille With a Pen?
In the third act of the film, when being asked to sign her family’s riches away, Edith escapes Lucille’s clutches when she stabs Lucille right above the collarbone with a fountain pen. But it’s more than just a violent outburst, it’s a powerful symbolic moment. Here what del Toro had to say:
“It was important for me that she recuperate the object of her power, which is the pen… The capacity to write. She has stopped writing her novel… and now, she’s going to write again.”
And it had to be a pen, not a typewriter, because this moment echoes an earlier scene where the editor condescendingly compliments her handwriting.
“This (visually) closes the cycle of the story of Edith in a beautiful way.”
5. Why is Dr. McMichael Sidelined During the Film’s Climax?
Hunky Dr. McMichael (Charlie Hunnam) has sailed across the Atlantic to come rescue Edith from the terrible Sharpes, but del Toro was intent on Edith not being the damsel in distress. Instead, Edith has to rescue the gravely wounded doctor.
“We’re gonna have Edith say the lines to Dr. MacMichael that normally you get a guy saying to the girl in the action movies… I derive enormous satisfaction in that reversal of roles.”
When she supports the limping doctor while they walk away from Allerdale Hall:
“Now she is Fabio, carrying the boy in her arms. But very importantly, it’s not love. She has not left a man to find another. She is rescuing this guy.”