movies, music and everything else

This blog is about pretty much what the title implies... movies, music and everything else.

My Photo
Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I like movies, music and everything esle... ; ) oh... and i can't spell, so, please, no comments

Friday, January 19, 2007

take a trip down the rabbit hole

PAN’S LABYRINTH is a dark fairy tale that will engage and delight you if you are one of the lucky ones that go out and see it. How is that for a build up for a film?
I have been a fan of director Guillermo Del Toro since I first saw CRONOS (a low budget Spanish language vampire movie from 1993). Since then, he has made several “Hollywood” films, but returned to his roots a few years back with the fantastic DEVIL’S BACKBONE (if you haven’t seen it… rent it). So as soon as I heard that he was making a dark fairy tale with fantasy elements, I was in from the get go. With all of my expectations going in, I was not let down. As of now I have seen PAN’S LABYRINTH five times and I could go again tonight. This is one of those rare films that just get better the more you watch it.
While the movie is a fairy tale at its core, most of the story is set in the real world of war torn Spain. A fascist regime has gained control, but is still finding resistance from a small group of rebels. The story is set at a mill and outpost for the military, overseen by the merciless and seemingly heartless Captain Vidal. The story starts with a young girl named Ofelia coming to live at the outpost with her mother, Carmen, who has married Vidal and is pregnant with his child. Ofelia is an avid reader and has an overactive imagination. Along the way she encounters what she believes to be a fairy that ends up leading her along a journey that is just as fantastical as one of her books.
The journey that Ofelia embarks on can be described as a retelling of the classic Alice in Wonderland even as far as many of the characters and creatures she meets directly parallel those in the novel. When the fairy brings her to a menacing creature named Fauno, he sets her path and tasks her with three “tests”. He believes that she is the princess of the underworld and these “tests” will verify that she has not become too human so that she can return home and take her rightful place at the throne.
The backdrop of the story is the revolution and the terrible Captain Vidal and his ruthless treatment of all of the people around him. There are moments in this film of severe violence that serve to illustrate the brutality and pain of the real world, making the promise of a peaceful dreamland all the more appealing for Ofelia. The intertwining of the real world and the fantasy world is intricate and one with layers that will stand out on further viewings. This is a complex film, but an engaging one.
Visually, PAN’S LABYRINTH is one of the most magical movies I have seen in years. There is nothing that doesn’t feel real, no matter how fantastical it may be. The use of the camera movement and the combination of visual effects and practical effects weave together to create another world. The creatures in the fantasy world are amazing. It is as if we are allowed in the mind of the imaginative of Del Toro and while there is a certain amount of horror to the creatures, there is also a sense of beauty as well. Even Ofelia’s guide, Fauno is sinister in appearance and we are never really sure if he should be trusted. When she encounters the most dangerous task and comes face to face with the Pale Man, it is one of the very best scenes in any film this year. He is a truly creepy and unique villain.
There are many layers to the story of PAN’S LABYRINTH. Like all great fairy tales, it is about much more than the surface. This film deals with (among other things) the loss of innocence and imagination, and the fight for hope and what you believe is right. Many might describe this film as “depressing” or too dark, but at its core this is a movie ABOUT hope and never letting go of what you believe in. This is a beautiful story, just a more complex one than we are used to. There is a pure beauty in the dark imagination of Del Toro and through that, he is able to tell this remarkable tale.
PAN’S LABYRINTH opens nation wide today and I ask everyone that reads this to see it. It is rare that movies like this are made and they should be embraced. I know that the film is in another language and there are subtitles, but don’t let that get in your way. Go and see this film and let Del Toro transport you to another place… a place that is a little dark and somewhere you have not been before… you will not regret it.


Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

Great review ... I've been waiting to see this for what seems like three years now, but unfortunately, it's not really opening nationwide this week, just in 600 or so theaters, not enough to reach my little corner of the world! .. I may have to wait for DVD, unfortunately

2:53 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

free web tracker