Industry workhorse and perennial underdog Guillermo del Toro has attempted to shepherd, adapt, or reboot tons of pet projects into the world of film since the writer/director’s success gave him leeway to pursue passion projects with upscale IP.
Some of these were well-documented and tumultuous affairs like Hellboy III or At the Mountains of Madness, while others were quietly doomed, like George R.R. Martin’s The Sandkings or del Toro’s Hulk TV show. But in a recent listing of most of his unproduced wonders, del Toro revealed that he worked on bringing a novel to the screen that, previous to this, had only drawn comparisons between author and director through genre and technique.
The Buried Giant, the 2015 book by the Nobel-winning Kazuo Ishiguro, is a fantastic Arthurian musing set in alt-Britain — perfect for the mythology junkie del Toro. The author even once mentioned that del Toro’s film Pan’s Labyrinth was similar in theme, as it too used fantasy elements to convey grand and crushing human truths. Its place on del Toro’s list, which fans can read below, means that del Toro at one point worked on bringing this treatise on collective memory to the screen:
While The Guardian mentions that the rights for the novel were purchased by mega-producer Scott Rudin, the film seems to have gone nowhere... which was the fate of many del Toro projects. Even ones he was a fan of, like The Buried Giant.
Some, like the Pacific Rim sequel or Beauty and the Beast, would go on to become much different films — the Disney movie, for example, completely scrapped his version — while others still reside in the nebulous filing cabinet known as development hell.
The news that The Buried Giant was one of del Toro’s projects — however briefly — is bittersweet, as it likely means that it will never see the light of day. Unless, that is, a huge fan at the head of a studio somehow rediscovers his unproduced work, which seems unlikely. Until then, del Toro continues wowing audiences with the small percentage of material that hits the screen — and that’s enough for now.