PAN’S LABYRINTH. Though this only came out five years ago, it still held a spot on my Embarrassment List since it was so widely acclaimed. I knew this film spent time in the Underworld, and I had seen pictures of the creepy monster with its eyes in its hands, but literally knew nothing else about this picture (except that my buddy John R. wasn’t the hugest fan of it). There are SPOILERS below; I feel it is necessary to talk about the end with this film.

I watched EL LABERINTO DEL FAUNO (PAN’S LABYRINTH, 2006) on 9.2.11. It was my first viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE

I walked away from PAN’S LABYRINTH with questions. This is a good thing. Oh, I enjoyed the movie. I thought it had a few flaws, but I overall very much walked away with a good feeling, but with questions. I’ll get to those later.

The script, written by the film’s Director Guillermo del Toro, is wildly original. This is a fantasy set in Spain in 1944. Rebels are pushing in on the established army, and there is a nasty man, Vidal, in charge of the establishment. Vidal’s new wife and her daughter from a previous marriage (Ofelia) come to stay on base, so to speak. His wife is pregnant with Vidal’s son, something he cares much more about than the wife herself. The camp has two people who have infiltrated its ranks, but are true members of the rebels.

Sounds very wartime, right? In the midst of all this, Ofelia is visited by a fairy and learns from the fairy’s master (the titular Faun) that she must complete three fantastical tasks. These involve completing some challenge while confronting a monster. The tasks themselves, as the movie unfolds, are fairly tame and not as well thought out as the monsters and the rest of the story. Sure there are some symbolic parallels to draw, but the tasks don’t impress as particularly exciting.

But that’s ok. The real world story is exciting enough. This would be a great film WITHOUT the fantasy aspects. The fanatsy in this film serves as an escape from a real world which is too horrible and grotesque for a little girl to exist within.

The film won three Oscars. The Cinematography is nice, but it wasn’t what drew me. The Makeup is certainly exceptional (not just the fantasy makeup, when Vidal gets cut at the end, the work is brilliant). But the Art Direction in this film… that’s where this picture shines. The entire movie feels so authentic. The Labyrinth does not feel like some entirely different film, it feels like it is somehow stuck in the middle of this muddy, dirty Spain. The attention to detail is spectacular, and there is no scene which feels out of place.

But now the questions. The script leaves us with a few which could have been solved. For example, why does Vidal let Mercedes go despite knowing she is part of the resistance. Why wait until she tries to escape to catch her? And why doesn’t he just send Ofelia away once her mother dies?

But the biggest question of all… do the fantasy aspects of this film actually ever happen? The film begins with Ofelia’s last moments on Earth, and blood trickling back INTO her nose. We then flash back to her arriving at camp. There is certainly the possibility that all of this is a deathbed fantasy concocted to make the world okay in a dying girl’s eyes. Noone sees any of the fantasy stuff, except for the mandrake. But the mandrake could have been something Ofelia herself found, and it actually had no bearing on the incidents at hand. Her mother could have had the baby at the moment she did because of stress and fatigue. Or, perhaps, the mandrake never even existed and the entire narrative is false.

Of course, we have the name Ofelia as well. The most famous Ofelia (though Shakespeare spelled it Ophelia) went mad and became an unreliable source of information. Does this all add up to the entire story of PAN’S LABYRINTH having never happened? Maybe, maybe not. But it is certainly interesting to think about!



The Bonus Point is for the exceptional Art Direction. Just a beautiful film to watch.



~ by johnlink00 on September 4, 2011.

One Response to “johnlink ranks EL LABERINTO DEL FAUNO (PAN’S LABYRINTH) (2006)”

  1. Good write up! I agree about the authenticity that Guillermo went for. I haven’t watched this in a while and I may catch up with it soon. Thanks!

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