Guillermo Del Toro on Duel as fuel; Or, Carrying Things on Your Own

One huge moment, and a peculiar one, was when I first saw a movie I revere and watch in awe every year: Steven Spielberg’s Duel. I was about eight years old and my parents took my brother Frederico and me – in our pyjamas – to the drive-in, Autocinema Real. We were in a station wagon and my brother and I were poking out of the rear window…

We all held our collective breaths, then, as Dennis Weaver triumphs over the truck/monster and it falls over the edge, honking/howling like a dying brontosaur: elation!! Every single car in the drive-in “applauded” with their horns – all at once – and you could hear the vocals inside the cars. Loud. Beautiful. A great memory.

The work of a filmmaker is, many a time, sort of very communal and, ironically, sort of lonely too: you transit through many, many creative partnerships but the all either come or go at intervals. You, and you alone, turn on the lights and sweep the pub, so to speak, and you and you alone stand at the end of the journey to turn off the lights. There are exceptions to this rule but inevitably you toil for a long time before you see the “brushstroke” in your painting come alive in front of people. So these responses, when they happen, are as close as we get to experiencing the “live concert” emotion. You get your corny but intensely moving Paul Potts moment. And on occasion, it can save your sanity or even your life. I have experienced both.

Guillermo Del Toro on DuelEmpire, March 2021

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