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Movie Reviews -- Pan's Labyrinth

Last night we saw Pan's Labyrinth, or El Laberinto del Fauno. (The movie title people don't think Americans know the difference between a faun and a fawn. I'd bet even fewer actually know who Pan is, and the Pan in the film has nothing to do with the god Pan. And the subtitles refer to him as a faun, not as Pan, throughout the film. Give us Americans a little credit. Any of us going to see this probably know Mr. Tumnus from Narnia.)

Mike keeps saying it was so awesome. I'd say it's beautifully crafted, but a disturbing, adult fairy tale horror film. It's definitely worth seeing in the theater if you can find it. It's still playing in many arthouse theaters. There's a richness to the film that will be lost on a television screen, even a big tv screen.

Classic fairy tale plot. Ofelia and her pregnant mother move to the country to live with Ofelia's stepfather, who's a captain in 1940's Fascist army in Spain. They, of course, live next to an enchanted forest, which includes a labyrinth. Ofelia finds out from the faun in the labyrinth that she's an immortal princess but she has to do three tasks in order to earn her immortality. And hilarity ensues. No, not really. The exact opposite actually. There is cruelty and torture and death, in both the real world and the fantasy world Ofelia escapes to.

Fascists, rebels, magical creatures (including a disgusting giant toad), a fiesty servant whom Ofelia befriends, all existing in the dual worlds of Fascist Spain and the labyrinth forest. This film has a little bit of everything. (Except romance. If you're looking for one of those mushy princess/prince charming type fairy tales, look someplace else.)

This is not a children's movie. Mike thinks it's no worse than The Dark Crystal, but The Dark Crystal wasn't rated R for being somewhat of a horror film. This one is. I was afraid I'd get nightmares, particularly from one of Ofelia's task involving a gruesome child-eating monster. I also closed my eyes a few times, particularly when the captain, after being sliced through the cheek, sews his own stitches (because he shot his doctor after finding out he was aiding the rebels).

It's Spanish with English subtitles. This is a film that is told so excellently with images and very little dialogue that after a few minutes you'll hardly be glancing at the words. You don't need them and you shouldn't let them keep you from seeing this film.

ETA: Mike would like me to issue an addendum stating that as the film went on he realized it was darker and more disturbing than The Dark Crystal, in that Crystal is an entirely fantastical film, where as Pan had some frightening "real life" scenes.


Jono said…
...we saw it a couple of weeks ago, and I loved it. Although, as you say, it is a bit dark.

That said, I don't think that it was exactly aimed at a child audience.

And those men of francos - they were real fascists!

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