Feb 3, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

If you want to see a film that will knock you sideways on so many levels then I can highly recommend Pan's Labyrinth. This film (El Laberinto del Fauno in Spanish) is full of such vivid imagery, heart and beauty that it will stay in your mind for days. Directed by Guillermo del Toro (what is it with Mexican directors, Cuaron, Inarritu, now this man) the film is set in 1944 Spain. The fascist Franco government has just won the Civil War and a captain has brought troops and his family to northern Spain to fight the last remaining insurgents. The centrepiece of the film is Ofelia (pictured) played by Ivana Baquero. Her passive mother is about to give birth and the father is now her despised step-father, Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez) who is easily a contender for one of the most vile cinema creations in recent memory. Arriving at their outpost in the country she stumbles across a Labyrinth inhabited by a Faun (Pan) and various dark creatures and angels. Now I normally would stay away from any kind of 'fantasy' film but the combination in this film of the real life battle between troops and insurgents and the child's dark fantasy world just makes a perfect blend. I won't go into anymore depth about the plot or Ofelia's encounters with the Underground, suffice to say that this film engages you throughout. Rarely do I see a movie of such rich characters, stunning cinematography and jaw dropping intensity. The film seems to me to be a story not only of human resistance but the struggle to find beauty in a sometimes dark world. It has been nominated for 6 Academy Awards, although NOT Best film. Also this is definitely not for children, Harry Potter it ain't.

7 Comments:

  • At February 03, 2007 , Anonymous Karen said...

    I'm not a huge fantasy fan either but I had been thinking of catching this movie this weekend - I've heard a lot of good stuff about it.

     
  • At February 03, 2007 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    cool review! i loved the interweaving of reality vs fantasy. he really did a superb job. maybe it's a spanish thing but this film really made me feel like i was watching a visual reincarnation of a marquez novel. sure kicks harry potter in the butt!

    ~h

     
  • At February 03, 2007 , Anonymous James said...

    Strange. I was just in the middle of writing a review of this for my website. Not sure when I'll post it online so I may as well post it here:

    I must be the only critic on the planet not give this drama laced with dark fairytale elements 4/4 stars. Don’t get me wrong – this is a highly original visual story that might be the first fairytale drama made specifically for adults. The set design, the creatures and the fairytale aspects are the greatest assets to the film. Where it fell slightly short of greatness was in the drama of the characters. The film is set in small rural town north of Spain during 1944, just after the Spanish Civil War. There’s a post-war fascism within the community and it’s within these scenes consisting of the military where I feel the film lacks dramatic apotheosis or originality. The Captain of the military is particularly vicious but the character came across a caricature of himself, almost the embodiment of a clichéd evil war Captain. There’s no real three dimensionality to his character nor anybody else in the film and I think that’s where the film lets itself down, in the script department. But there is no doubt of the appealing visual aesthetic director Guillermo del Toro integrates throughout. It’s a true original in that respect.

     
  • At February 03, 2007 , Blogger Wayne said...

    I wasn't sure if I would like this film either, but I found myself spellbound throughout. Yes, I think the blend of fantasy and reality was seamless. I can see James where the Captain was one dimensional, but people like him do exist and even he admits towards the end that pride is his weakness. However I thought the other characters were very well drawn especially Ofelia and Mercedes. I was caught up as much in the adult drama as Ofelia's fantasy world. But we all see films differently which makes for good discussion.

     
  • At February 04, 2007 , Anonymous Sean said...

    maybe not best film, but it is up for best foreign film.

    i loved it as well. such an intesne film.

     
  • At February 04, 2007 , Anonymous Grace said...

    This is a wonderful film.

     
  • At February 05, 2007 , Anonymous Angus said...

    The film had true moments of gothic beuaty.

    Especially the scene with that eyeless child-eating monster. I thougth I was watching some crazy Tool video.

     

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