Living with her tyrannical stepfather in a new home with her pregnant mother, 10-year-old Ofelia feels alone until she explores a decaying labyrinth guarded by a mysterious faun who claims to know her destiny. If she wishes to return to her real father, Ofelia must complete three terrifying tasks.
ActorsStarring: Ivana Baquero, Maribel Verdú, Sergi López, Doug Jones, Ariadna Gil, Alex Angulo, Roger Casamajor, Manolo Solo, César Vea, Ivan Massagué, Gonzalo Uriarte, Eusebio Lázaro, Francisco Vidal, Juanjo Cucalón, Lina Mira, Mario Zorrilla, Sebastián Haro, Mila Espiga, Pepa Pedroche, Lalá Gatóo, Ana Sáez, Chani Martín, Milo Taboada, Fernando Albizu, Pedro G. Marzo, José Luis Torrijo, Íñigo Garcés, Fernando Tielve, Federico Luppi, Chicho Campillo, Pablo Adán
From the innovative mind of Guillermo del Toro comes Pan’s Labyrinth. It is a coming of age tale of innocence and imagination. It is a story about a young girl who is other worldly. Like a crystal vase in a sea of tupperware, she doesn’t match her surroundings. Del Toro creates a fantasy world that is draws us in and leaves us feeling like a child who just heard a fairy tale for the first time.
A warning to my more language challenged readers, this film is in Spanish. It is subtitled. I don’t see that as a problem. I would like to hear why you do if you do. The story is set in Spain in 1944 following the Spanish Civil War. So really any language besides Spanish would feel forced and inauthentic. If you claim that you don’t go to the movies to read, then that is just laziness and you need to get over it. The story centers around Ofelia who is traveling with her pregnant mother. They are moving to a fascist command centre in rural Spain led by the fiendish Captain Vidal who happens to be the father of the mother’s unborn child. Ofelia is the type of child whose imagination feeds her energy. Unfortunately, it is also her imagination that causes Ofelia’s disconnect with the real world.
Ofelia’s exploring leads her to meet a faun. This is the Pan of the English title of the film (del Toro has told us that that is not actually the faun’s name). The first interaction between Ofelia and the faun is revealing because Ofelia doesn’t draw back in horror at the sight of this creature, in fact she seems more comfortable in his presence that with her own mother. This fantasy is her reality and it becomes ours. Ofelia learns the fact that every little girl steeped in fairy tales has yearned to hear, that she is a long lost princess separated from her kingdom.
Half of the story plays out in this ominous and sometimes frightening dreamland. However, del Toro is using the other half of the story to give us a picture of good and evil. The real monster of the film is Captain Vidal despite his normal outward appearance. Let me be quick to say that this is not a kids movie. With the young protagonist and presence of fairy tale creatures it might be tempting to present this to a child, but violence play an important part in this film showing the harsh, unwanted situation that Ofelia’s real life presents her with and blood, guts, and broken bones are all present in this reality.
El Laberinto del Fauno (or Pan’s Labyrinth) is a gorgeously detailed and styled story with characters and creatures to love and despise. Del Toro gives me hope that imagination is not dead.