By: Reid Conner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy/thriller fairy tale is no ordinary story. It definitely isn’t a children’s tale either. Don’t have any misconceptions about this movie; it has more blood, gore and gruesome images than a traditional fairy tale. However, the imaginative, unique plot coupled with captivating acting and visuals make “Pan’s Labyrinth” a truly unforgettable foreign film experience.
Set in the 1940s in Francisco Franco’s fascist Spain, the movie tells the tale of a young Spanish girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero). She, along with her pregnant mother (Ariadna Gil), relocate to the headquarters and barracks run by her father, the cruel Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez). She discovers a fawn (half-goat, half-satyr) in the labyrinth behind the home who tells her she is actually a princess. To reclaim her throne she must undergo three trials. The movie explores how a little girl copes with and comes to terms with her fascist world using her imagination.
“Pan’s Labyrinth” is a movie full of symbolism and hidden meanings. The movie is one big parable disguised like a fairy tale. The stories of Mercedes (Maribel Verdu) and the doctor (Alex Angulo) portray the harsh realism of how blind obedience destroyed people’s morals and lives. Ofelia’s quest for a kingdom without pain and suffering mirrors the desires of the Spanish rebels in the movie. Events in Ofelia’s fantasy world often run parallel to the events unfolding in harsh reality.
The acting in this movie is inspiring. Lopez steals the show in his role as the evil fascist army Captain that you love to hate. His screen presence is so despicably cruel and unfeeling that you can’t help but loathe him. The young Baquero, who was 10 years old at the start of filming, plays the lead role admirably, capturing the emotions and fantasies of a little girl trapped in the evils of an adult world. Along with the supporting roles of Verdu and Angulo, this movie has a remarkably strong cast.
The visuals are everything you would hope for in a fairy tale. Unique, dark, creative and sometimes grisly, Ofelia’s fairy tale world has a satisfying feel to it. The scenery really sets the mood of fascism and war.
Overall, del Toro’s creation is an inspiring piece of work riddled with lessons and morals. Backed up by great acting and visuals and a refreshing story, this Spanish film is one that everyone can enjoy. Keep in mind, though, this is one fairy tale that isn’t meant for children.