Written and Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Cronos begins with a prologue and a narrative that details to us the story of the 16th century alchemist Fulcanelli and his creation of the Cronos device and the hopes that it will bear him eternal life. Skip ahead a few hundred years and we meet Jesus Gris; a kindly antiques dealer who literally stumbles upon the device and has his life forever changed by its seductive and deadly power.
That most omniscient of websites-Wikipedia-describes Cronos as a "1993 Mexican vampire horror film." I agree with half of that; I agree with the part about it being a Mexican horror film. However, I don't agree that it is a vampire film in the truest sense of the word. Yes, Jesus Gris develops a taste for human blood as a result of the Cronos device and it is ultimately what he will need if he hopes to keep himself alive; but I see Cronos more as a film about our obsession with time. We want more of it and the more of it that we have it never seems like there is enough. "If only I had more time"; "Time is on my side"; "But there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them"; yes I realize I am quoting The Rolling Stones and the late Jim Croce but I hope you understand what I am trying to say and that is that the characters in Cronos are obsessed with time and not blood. They want more of it and-in the case of the dying Dieter de la Guardia and his nephew Angel (a fantastic Ron Perlman in the first of what would become many collaborations with writer-director Guillermo del Toro)-they are even willing to kill for it. Cronos is a variation on ‘Khronos’, or the personification of time; if the obsession within the film had been for blood and not time then perhaps the title would been more descriptive of such a thing; it might have been called "Sangre", perhaps.
Cronos is the debut film of director Guillermo del Toro and there are elements of the film that would become iconic trademarks of his career: insects, angels and religious symbolism and clockwork designs and motifs. This was my first time watching Cronos and of course I have seen several of del Toro's later films. The thing that impressed me the most about Cronos is that for its 94 minute runtime it never once feels like a first film. Instead it feels like a seasoned film from an immensely imaginative talent that would fit anywhere within del Toro's filmography.