Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

Guillermo del Toro | 2006 | 112 min | Mexico + Spain

A fantastic fairytale that is distinctly not for children, Pan's Labyrinth is set near the close of the Second World War in Spain. Ofelia and her mother Carmen travel to a military outpost in the Spanish countryside to stay with Carmen's new husband, a captain in Franco's army charged with quelling local rebels. Ofelia quickly retreats further into her love of fantasy as the world around her grows increasingly violent, giving way to stunning visuals and characters.

Pan's Labyrinth most obviously reminds one of fantasies like Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, or the Narnia books, but this film never shies away from the outside cruelty that makes Ofelia's fantasies so rich. There are moments of surprising brutality in this film. No matter what the content of his films, it seems that del Toro never strays too far from his horror roots. This is not a film I would expose any children too, but the savagery of the fascist soldiers is what makes Ofelia's experience so gorgeous. If you can endure no small amount of gore you will be rewarded by following her in an incredible experience. This film is basically perfect.

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