Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Starring: Sergi Lopez ("Dirty Pretty
Thing", "Harry is here to help"), Maribel Verdu
("Y Tumama Tambien") and Ivana Baquero ("Fragile")
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: Festive Films & GV
Rating: NC-16 (Some Violence)
Official website: http://www.panslabyrinth.com
Day: 11 Jan 2007
1944. The civil war has been over for 5 years. Carmen, recently
remarried, settles down with her daughter Ofélia in
the home of her new husband, the highly domineering Vidal,
captain in the pro-Franco army. While the little girl struggles
to get used to her new life, she discovers nearby the great
family house a mysterious labyrinth. Pan, its faithful guardian,
a strange magical and demonic creature, will reveal to her
that she is none other than the princess who long ago disappeared
from an enchanted realm. To discover the truth, Ofélia
will have to face three dangerous trials that nothing on earth
has prepared her for...
when all the elements of a great film masterfully come together,
to bring the viewer such an experience, such wonderment and
emotion, that words are truly needless.
Writer-Director Guillermo Del Toro’s sixth film, Pan’s
Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Faun) is one such movie. Grim,
dark and steeped in pagan symbolism and mysticism, it is a
horrific and political fairytale where reality and fantasy
meet and entwine. We will never really know where the fantasy
ends and reality begins, for one is too real and the brutality
and cruelty of the latter, too mad and shocking. Nonetheless,
we perceive Ofelia’s (Ivana Baquero) world as imaginary,
but Del Toro’s skill will surely leave you wondering.
Ivana Baquero as Ofelia proves to be a consummate and underrated
actress. Her every move, every subtle nuance and grace, as
well as her deep understanding of Ofelia’s pending psyche
and pending maturation, create for us an amazing and totally
believable character. Kudos to Maribel Verdu as well, who
plays the affectionate but strong Mercedes. The sound of the
film is superb as is the beautifully haunting score.
However, as with another of Del Toro’s magnificent films,
The Devil’s Backbone (2001), Pan does suffer from a
slow and rather long exposition. It is also a travesty that
a film that takes so much care and detail in filmmaking makes
a shoddy attempt at CG blood splatter. But once you are immersed
in the drama, all is quickly forgiven.
The visual elements are nothing short of stunning. Mixing
CG with traditional costumes, make-up and sets, Del Toro achieves
a new and wonderfully fantastic new world of visual delight.
A great pity that there were so few of these scenes! Monsters
are always present in Fantasy. And in this film alone, Pan’s
Labyrinth has created not one, but three monsters that will
forever be etched in the annals of monster fame.
Here Pan, the Faun, is no longer the cute pipe tooting half
man, half –goat, but a more demonic, mysterious ram/tree
and root hybrid. Actor Doug Jones brings Pan to life, with
a unique and grunting voice. He also plays the terrifying
Pale Man – a grotesque creation on sacrilegious legs
with eyes in the palms of his hands. This beast makes the
creatures from Silent Hill look harmless and bland. The very
thought of it now, arm outstretched, limping and looking for
its next victim still sends shivers down my spine.
In tales of Fantasy, the protagonists always have to face
up to monsters, whether they be inner demons, or real physical
entities. And here, the biggest, most vile monster is not
Pan nor the Pale Man, but Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez in this
brilliant role), Ofelia’s stepfather. This is a man
so brutal and heartless that he will do anything including
torture and murder for fascism’s (and his) own ends.
And worse, he takes delight in doing it.
With Pan’s Labyrinth, Del Toro marries numerous genre
films and themes into one fluid, engaging and beautiful work
Review by Darren Sim