Saturday 1 November 2008

Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno) [2006]

-->Directed by the maverick New Age Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro, Pan’s Labyrinth is a surreal, sweeping, visually stunning and emotionally enthralling pseudo-fantasy fable set in the backdrop of the turbulent post-civil war Spain. The theme propounded by his previous film The Devil’s Backbone, viz. the juxtaposition of the real world horrors vis-à-vis the fantasy world ones, attained mind-numbing and spectacular proportions in Pan’s Labyrinth. The tale of a young innocent girl Ofelia, who is given three dangerous tasks by a mythical faun Pan to prove that she is indeed a princess of the magical world, is told alongside the violent and profoundly distressing war between Franco’s brutal army and the guerrilla rebels. The movie is as arresting for its astonishing cinematography and the director’s incredible eye for the detail, as it is heart-rending for its delicate poetry and lyricism that manages to affect the viewer’s sense of being. Though universally praised on its release, its graphic violence and disturbing plot developments have ensured that it is not for the squeamish. Stirring score, outstanding special effects, and stellar performance by the cast including the young protagonist, have made this refreshingly unique and absolutely brilliant movie one for the ages.
Note: My recent review of the film can be found here.

Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Genre: Drama/Fantasy Fable/War Drama/Epic
Language: Spanish
Country: Mexico


Shubhabrata said...


Just started reading your blog..good work I must say..

I still remember the first time I saw Pan's Labyrinth I had this strange feeling of melancholy and joy at the end and couldn't stop thinking about it for days. It had the same effect on me when I saw it again recently..I used to wary of watching foreign language movies before this because I felt I would not be able to connect with them but Pan's Labyrinth has changed my view altogether. A great work of art truly transcends all barriers.

Once again, you are doing a fantastic job..keep it up :)

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a lot for the appreciation. Since I love cinema and watch a lots of them, I felt the urge of maintaining a movie viewing diary where I can express my opinionated musings and short critiques about those titles.

Pan's Labyrinth is indeed one of those movies that once watched can never be forgotten, even if the concerned viewer isn't an avid movie goer per se. Not just every aspect of the movie is wonderful, it also has that something more which can never be explained by words - and I guess thats one of the reasons for this being such a terrific piece of art.

I hope my blog will of help to you in selecting and watching more such movies. Keep dropping by, and hoping to hear more from you in the future.

Sthito said...

I would say the vivid moments of war-time horror juxtaposed with the gory thrill of the fantasia; with the haunting soundtrack in the backdrop, the most captivating aspect of Pan's Labyrinth would be the subconscious effort of Ofelia to always venture out to the right direction, as if lead by the mysterious tasks devised by Pan, in the horrific reality of the times.

Shubhajit said...

I'd say thats a nice way of encapsulating the movie. Pan might very wall be Ofelia's subconscious, as you've put it. A child's mind always finds ways of shrouding or deconstructing the real world horrors. So where as she was captivated in the ugly mesh created by her stepfather (one of the most frightening screen villains), she turns into a fearless ranger in fantasy world where she manages to resolve every situation, however insurmountable, with elan and dexterity.

Chris said...

I thought I’d comment, as I’ve just rewatched Pans labyrinth, and I again admired the imaginative visuals. And yes, the film is refreshing and memorable.

I realize her name Ofelia is probably a reference to Hamlet, and agree with the tapestry article on your blog about Ofelia’s desire to give life to the death surrounding her. And as you say Pan might be her subconscious. But the story didn’t really challenge me, where is it you see the depth in this film that you alluded to me? I haven’t really read much about this film, which you may have done.

I was surprised at the explicit violence (hammer used on rabbit catcher’s face, the torture of a mute, and cutting the mouth of father, to name the most extreme violence) I don’t think this film is for kids, based on these scenes, I wouldn’t show it to people under 15. But other scenes are clearly more suitable for children, which makes it confusing for me which audience del Toro is trying to reach? I feel this aspect is a weakness.

By the way, another story about a girl during WW2 that might interest you is the acclaimed novel The Book Thief, which I’m reading.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks for posting in detail your reaction to and response of Pan's Labyrinth post your repeat viewing. Really appreciate that. Great that we at least agree that insofar the visual experience goes, this film is a fabulous achievement.

I really don't think a story must challenge us per se for the the film to be a good work of art, because story is just a component of the entire package, so to speak. The same, I'd say, holds for literature as well. When you speak of books like, say, On the Road or The Outsider, its not the story, but the impact that the book has, that transcends such books to the top of our collective conscience.

As for the violence, I would say it could very well have been a surreal recreation of Ofelia's mind. The film is essentially a synopsis of the horrible time captured through the prism of a child's eyes. The exaggeration that you speak of could easily be a consequence of that.

Yes, I agree, though a child is the film's protagonist, the movie can not really be qualified as a children's movie. It certainly calls for a more matured audience. And thanks a lot for referring the book. I'll surely look out for it.