Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

MOVIE: Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

June 26, 2007

Wow — just. . . wow. I had heard so many great things about this movie that I was nearly 99% positive I was going to totally hate it. The only thing that gave me a smidgen of hope was that it was directed by Guillermo del Toro, who directed one of my favorite Spanish horror films, The Devil’s Backbone, as well as a number of other solid flicks like Hellboy.

Ten minutes into Pan’s, though, I knew I was a goner. This is one of the most utterly magical films I have ever seen. Visually, it’s absolutely stunning — gorgeous colors, incredible creatures, masterful effects. And the story itself? Simply brilliant. It was described to me as a fairy tale for adults, and it’s got every single quality a fairy tale requires, including a test at the end for the main character, a test that ultimately provides us, the viewers, with a solid lesson on morality. The tale itself centers around a little girl whose widowed and pregnant mother has just remarried. She is taking her young daughter to her new husband’s house, a huge mansion way out in the middle of the woodsy nowhere in Spain. The new husband is a captain in the fascist army (it’s 1944), and his side of the story involves preparing for battle against a group of rebels in the forest. He’s a cruel man who couldn’t care less about his new family and is only focused on the baby his new wife is carrying — a baby he wants as his heir.

Struggling with her new life, the little girl, Ofelia, takes to wandering in the woods, where one day she comes across a strange creature with the head of a goat. He tells her she is a princess from the underworld, reincarnated as a human girl, and that he has a series of tasks she must accomplish if she is ever to return to her real, royal family. This creature is no sweetheart, though, and his tasks are hard, scary, and often violent as well. The whole time I was watching, I was terrified for Ofelia — was this creature really someone we could trust or was he using Ofelia to carry out a set of evil tasks for him that would eventually cause her harm? But the ending of this movie, a solid lesson in the dangers of fascist principles, felt totally right-on to me. It’s exactly the ending you’d expect from a fairy tale — it’s magical, educational, and extremely thought-provoking.

This film is absolutely brilliant (though, again, it’s a fairy tale for ADULTS — there is some pretty graphic violence, not to mention a whole host of utterly terrifying creatures, like eyeballs-in-the-hands-guy!). You can bet it’ll be number one on my list of favorite movies from the year, come December. Highly, HIGHLY recommended!

Genre: Horror/Fantasy
Stars: Ivana Baquero, Sergi Lopez, Maribel Verdu