118 Min. | Drama – Fantasy – War | November 2006
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López
Pan’s Labyrinth Review
Set during Franco’s mopping up exercise after the Spanish Civil War, Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth is a wonderful, dark fairy tale that, in a metaphor for Spain itself, teeters on the edge of nightmare dreamscapes of corruption, violence and the death of innocents. Pan’s Labyrinth is definitely not for young children. Although the fantasy sequences are gorgeously realised, and are fairy tales in the truest sense, most of the story exists outside of the dreamland, in the even more frightening world of a real life struggle of ideas and ideology.
In Pan’s Labyrinth, Sergi Lopez is excellent as the brutal Falangist Captain tasked with routing out the remaining leftists from the woods and hills of Northern Spain. Into this precarious situation come his new wife and his stepdaughter Ofelia. Uncomfortable with her new surroundings, suspicious of her stepfather and desperately concerned about the worsening condition of her mother, Ofelia uncovers a strange alternative world, and the chance to escape forever the pain and uncertainty of her everyday life.
Thus the film alternates between the world of Civil War Spain and the increasingly bizarre, dark and frightening world of the Pan’s Labyrinth. As the twin plots progress, they intertwine, with the tasks of Ofelia becoming the choices faced by a Spain at the crossroads. The poignancy of the film lies partly in the fact that the victories of the child are reflected so starkly by the failures of the adult world. Apparently Pan’s Labyrinth won a 20-minute standing ovation at Cannes, when it was shown. This may be a little bit over the top. For all the evident truth of these observations, to accept them would be to entirely miss the majesty of Pan’s Labyrinth, which doesn’t lie in its originality but its absolute mastery of execution. People will watch Pan’s Labyrinth in a way that most won’t watch Land and Freedom.
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