Sunday 10 May 2015

Pan's Labyrinth [2006]

In his thematic sequel to Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, Del Toro crafted a fabulous concoction of Spanish Civil War violence and a dark fairy tale, while evocatively portraying a child’s lost innocence and futile attempts at escapism. At once brutal, gut-wrenching and melancholic, the genre-bending film – mix of war drama, gothic horror and fantasy – was a powerful exploration of grim realities in the form of atrocities, death and personal loss through the eyes of a young, lonely and vulnerable girl with a fecund mind. In the real world, 10-year old Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) travels with her ailing mother (Ariadna Gil) to a war-ravaged outpost under the command of her new stepfather Captain Vidal (Sergi López), a ruthless military man hell-bent on crushing the guerilla rebels operating from the forests; meanwhile, in the metaphysical realm, she is approached by a faun who informs her that she’s the lost princess of the underworld, and that she needs to perform three dangerous tasks in order to regain her place and acquire immortality. The cherubic Baquero was unforgettable as the tale’s sole light in the midst of turmoil and unspeakable horrors, while López was evil incarnate whose chauvinism, lust for power and loyalty towards Franco’s ideals was matched by his infinite capacity for cruelty; Maribel Verdú as Mercedes, Vidal’s housekeeper spying for the rebels who becomes Ofelia’s sole friend, and Álex Angulo as an anti-fascist Doctor who’s surreptitiously providing medicines for the rebels, added layers of humanism to the proceedings. The mesmerizing visual designs, cinematography and SFX were essential to the film’s magic realism, grotesque imagery and graphic novel stylistics, and the incredibly haunting score made the experience all the more poignant.

Note: My earlier review of this film can be found here.

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

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