Movie review: “Pan’s Labyrinth”

I’d been eyeing this movie for a while, but the dark cover quite frankly gave me the heebies. I thought it might be a horror movie dressed up in a dark sort of fairy tale with monsters.

Well, it kind of was. And there were scenes where I did indeed close my eyes and snuggle my cat, who was (predictably) trying to merge-melt into the heater, and asked hubby to tell me when it safe to look again once the screaming (on screen) had stopped.

Maybe it was just the fact that we’ve watched a fair group of bloody and violent movies this last week, but I have had my fill with people being tortured, shot up, dismembered and generally dying in an unpleasant manner. I get quite enough of that, thank you, when I read the local newspapers.

Anyhow, Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) is a Spanish language (with English subtitles) fantasy film directed by Guillermo del Toro. In Spanish the title is “El laberinto del fauno”, which should have been translated as “The Labyrinth of the Faun”. but as Del Toro points out in the Special Features, he didn’t want to confuse English-speaking people who would associate ‘faun’ with the cute little woodland ‘fawn’. He was specifically referring to the ‘faun’ of Greek mythology, whom the rather frightening Greek god Pan resembles.

The movie is set in Spain in 1944, at a time when the Spanish Civil War had officially ended, but guerillas known as the Spanish Maquis are continuing to fight against the Franco regime in a mountainous and wild woodland region. The main protagonist is a young girl, Ofelia, who still believes in the reality of fairy tales and mythologies. Her mother is heavily pregnant with a boy child, but the pregnancy is sapping her strength. The father of the boy, but not the father of Ofelia, is a Captain Vidal who is relentlessly pursuing and brutally killing the guerillas. 

When Ofelia explores the surroundings of the mill in the forest, where the soldiers are encamped, she finds an overgrown, ancient labyrinth, in the centre of which she meets the Faun of the title. The Faun tells her that she is actually the princess of the underground world into which the labyrinth is a portal, but that she has forgotten her true identity. She is given three difficult and magical tasks to complete to prove that she is indeed said princess and worthy of returning to that world.

I loved it.

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For other movies we’ve watched in May, click on:

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