Pan’s Labyrinth is a wonderfully mythical tale set against the backdrop of fascist Spain, where innocence must grow up, challenge authority and fulfil her destiny.
Ofelia is forced to journey with her pregnant mother to live with her new father, a man she does not know or trust. Set in the hills of rural Spain her new ‘father’ is determined to destroy the last vestments of the Spanish resistance and shows his true colours early on as he beats to death an innocent farm boy.
With harshness and cruelty abounding, Ofelia withdrawals to a world of fantasy that only she can see.
But is it fantasy?
In the opening scene, we see Ofelia as she finds an eye carved into a broken stone, we follow her as she discovers and ancient statue where the eye came from and as she reunited the statue and eye, her own eyes are opened to the reality of the fantasy – spiritual – world around her.
Through this shift in focus of her world view, Ofelia soon discovers that whilst she was born in human form, she is in fact a princess from a spiritual realm and must travel a journey pre-ordained path that will lead her to question what is truth, where does authority come from, and most importantly the meaning of true love and sacrifice.
She will overcome fear; battle evil monsters and feel the pain of loss and betrayal and in doing so grow from an innocent child to a courageous woman.
Guillermo del Toro does a brilliant job of weaving alternate realities in a cohesive storyline with such rich imagery that you’ll want to watch the movie over and over again.
The balance of fantasy and reality at first was disappointing, as I was expecting (as I had with the similarly proportioned Bridge to Terabithia) a fantasy epic, with reality taking a back seat, but as the story progressed I realised that del Torro had achieved a perfectly balanced narrative, where the fantasy element visualised the internal struggles of Ofelia without disrupting the flow of events in the real world.
It’s easy to see why Pan’s Labyrinth won Oscars for Cinematography, Art Direction and Make Up; the film is a visual feast. The hopelessness of the dreary, rugged countryside is complimented with the enchanting world that only Ofelia can witness. It’s richness also lies in the element of the unknown – who is good, who will prevail, nothing is left to chance, but nothing is given away until the final scenes.
Let you imagination run wild as you explore the endless possibilities of Pan’s Labyrinth.
Food for thought
The essence of forgiveness lies in His word and in His mystery. Because although God sends us the message, it is our task to decipher it.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read.
Rating: R16 – Contains Violence, Offensive Language & Horror.
Duration: 112 mins.
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Foreign.
Actors: Sergi Lopez, Maribel Verdú, Doug Jones, Ariadna Gil, Roger Casamajor, Alex Angulo, Ivana Massague.
Director: Guillermo del Toro.
Release Date: Available now.