Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

DailyView: Day 129, Movie 202

I chose Pan’s Labyrinth on Netflix to review today with the DailyView. Then, when I pulled it up, I realized that it was in Spanish and I would have to read the subtitles in order to watch it. I was not really in the mood to read my movie today so I was about to shut it off and look for something else. However, for some reason, I decided that I would go ahead and play Pan’s Labyrinth and read the subtitles after all.

Boy was that a great choice.

Pan’s Labyrinth, from director Guillermo del Toro, is a masterful fantasy movie that had all the elements of a fairy tale, but one made for adults. The film was graphically frightening at times, with some brutal violence to go along with the magical story.

Set in Spain during the last days of World War II, young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her pregnant and ailing mother Carmen  (Ariadna Gil) traveled to the post of Carmen’s new husband, the cruel Spanish captain Vidal (Sergi López), who was here to track down the rebels in the woods. Despite the dangers of traveling at this stage of her pregnancy, he wanted her to be with him before she gave birth to his son.

That night, a fairy approached Ofelia and led her to the faun Pan (Doug Jones), who told Ofelia that she was the daughter of the mystical realm’s king and that she needed to perform three dangerous missions if she wanted to take her place at her father’s side.

The film balances the beauty of the magical world and Ofelia’s efforts to perform her tasks with the the brutality and ugliness of the war and the cruelty of the Captain. While the fairy-tale world had a beauty, there was plenty of gross there too. It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows. It was more like giant, slobbering toads and child killing trolls with eyeballs in his hands.

Maribel Verdú played the character of Mercedes, a woman whose brother was among the resistance as she worked inside Captain Vidal’s camp. Much of the secondary story with Mercedes was extremely compelling and kept the real world in full view as these magical moments were going on.

The character design is brilliant and beautiful. The film did win Academy Awards in the areas of Art Direction, Cinematography and Makeup, and you can see why. The look of Pan’s Labyrinth is amazing and really holds up in today’s world.

I am so glad that I did not shy away from this master class in storytelling because I had to read some subtitles. Pan’s Labyrinth is an unbelievable accomplishment for Guillermo del Toro and everyone involved in the project. If you haven’t seen it, do it. Es una obra maestra.

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