Pan’s Labyrinth

Pan’s Labyrinth has been called “a real triumph” by Jonathan Ross and, having just watched it, I really can see why.

Pan’s Labyrinth (Spanish: El laberinto del fauno, literally The Labyrinth of the Faun) is a 2006 Spanish language fantasy film written and directed by Mexican film-maker Guillermo del Toro. It was produced and distributed by the Mexican film company Esperanto Films.

Pan’s Labyrinth takes place in a dual setting: Spain in May and June, 1944, during the turbulent period shortly after the Spanish Civil War, and a fantasy world experienced by a Spanish girl, Ofelia, who is given three tasks by a mysterious faun. In the “real world,” Ofelia’s stepfather, the Falangist Captain Vidal, viciously hunts the Spanish Maquis, guerrillas who continue fighting the Franco regime in the region, while her pregnant mother grows increasingly ill. The “fantasy world” is one that Ofelia enters through an overgrown labyrinth garden, where she meets all manner of strange and magical creatures who become central to her story. The film employs make-up, puppetry, and CGI effects to create its creatures.

The original Spanish title refers to the mythological fauns of Greek mythology, while the English title refers specifically to the faun-like Greek god Pan (intended to help English-speakers differentiate the title from the term fawn). However, Del Toro has stated that the faun in the film is not Pan.

So, you have the synopsis of the storyline courtesy of the Wikipedia page for Pan’s Labyrinth, how about the trailer? :oD

The trailer for this movie is absolutely awesome I think; although to me it gave the impression of a whole different film to the one that I’ve just watched. As a viewer, I found my attention being drawn more to the themes of war, death and oppression than to the fantasy element of this story. In fact, it’s only when I look back at the trailer that I realise the volume of fantasy that is actually contained within the tale – I personally don’t think that the trailer portrays the actual story of the film all that well. That said, as I’ve already mentioned, I think that the trailer for this movie is amazing and really makes me want to re-watch the film again!

This really is a twisted fairy tale for grown ups, and at several points I was cringing and looking away from the screen. The Pale Man (below) has got to be one of the scariest of evil beings that I’ve seen in years… I currently have all the lights on in the house whilst I get settled back down again *blush* hehe.

I can’t even re-watch the clip at the moment, I’m that on edge! Hehe. Believe it or not, the actor Doug Jones is actually inside the creature operating it, whilst complex CGI and puppetry takes care of the rest of the creature (the same is true of The Faun).

I wasn’t overly keen on the characterisation of The Faun – whom I thought had an accent like a badly dubbed porn star (though in fairness, they actually did have to dub the actor behind The Faun, Doug Jones). Alas, I didn’t find myself bonding with his character at all, despite him holding the main ‘fantasy’ role.

Despite being a Spanish film, with English subtitles, it is really easy to get into the film and to keep up with the plot and the goings on on-screen. The lullaby in this film is simply enchanting and also forms the central core around which most of the film’s soundtrack is formed.

In terms of genre, I was very surprised to find the themes of war and fantasy, death and magic all thrown in together in this film. I would have to say that the way that del Toro has gone about this is rather innovative. For a film whose major genre is classed as ‘fantasy’ there is an awful lot of violence and death in this film; albeit on the ‘human’ side. I would say this is fairly new-thinking for such a film, as normally the sword fights, pirate battles and intergalactic shoot-outs that make such tales what they are tend to happen on the fantasy side of a dual-world film, and not on the ‘human’ side. The fantasy element was respectful of the ‘human’ element and there were no ‘cheesy’ cross-over moments between the two, which was a refreshing change to see. The last few scenes were beautifully shot, and it was interesting to see the Underworld portrayed as an almost heavenly place as opposed to the usual connotations surrounding it.

I think this quote sums the film up perfectly and much more elloquently than I have been able to;

Mark Kermode, in The Observer, labeled Pan’s Labyrinth as the best film of 2006, describing it as “an epic, poetic vision in which the grim realities of war are matched and mirrored by a descent into an underworld populated by fearsomely beautiful monsters.”

If you have yet to see this film, then I really cannot recommend it highly enough. Fresh-thinking, highly imaginative, well produced and definitely a modern day classic for our time.

About Gari

Northern lad; living out in the Peak District and rediscovering life after having had a brain tumour.

2 Responses

  1. thelayoftheland

    The movie is amazing. I watched it in the cinema and left thinking “what HAVE i just seen?” – I couldn’t define it but I knew it was incredible. The haunting melodies, the haunting story and combination of realism and surreality made it something that’s stuck in my mind even if I cannot face to watch it regularly.


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