Monday, October 6, 2014

Another 31 Days Of Halloween: Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

                  A Viewing Experience That Makes You Want To Get Lost In The 'Labyrinth'
          Fairy tales are usually something that is a part of our childhood. But Guillermo Del Toro manages to successfully accomplish what I consider to be a rare feat: Make a fairy tale that is mostly for adults. Pan's Labyrinth is just that and is a marvelous, multi-faceted story that serves as the feast for the eyes of the imagination.
        Pan's Labyrinth follows the story of a young girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who is sent to live with her pregnant mother and sadistic stepfather Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez). Eventually, Ofelia meets a faun who says to her that she must perform three certain tasks in order to prove she is the princess that he thinks she is and so that she can see her real father, who is the king of his palace.

       Where do I begin? First off, I thought the creatures looked amazing. Director Guillermo Del Toro has an amazing visual eye and here, it really shows. Each creature has its own unique design and I loved how it makes each one stand out from the other. Plus, the film uses makeup effects for the actors playing the creatures, thankfully. If I had to choose my favorite creature, it might be the Pale Man, who is the one that puts his eyes in his hands and sits at the dinner table before Ofelia eats fruit from it.

        I also really liked the performance by Sergi Lopez as the stepfather. Ivana Baquero does a very nice job as Ofelia and even Doug Jones is brilliant as the Faun, but Lopez was the true scene-stealer. He is in a way like Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List, whereas he is evil and humanistic yet doesn't make you feel pity for him. Lopez is phenomenal yet despicable as the stepfather from hell. Another thing I loved was the film's beautiful cinematography. When I first watched this movie, I found my eyes glued to the screen because it is just so mesmerizing to watch. Guillermo Navarro, the film's cinematographer, won an Oscar for his work and it is hard to argue with that, in my opinion.

       It was even neat how the film is a fantasy fable used as a metaphor for the protagonist's own life, like Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland, yet it manages to stand on its own and even incorporate themes involving the Post-Spanish Civil war setting of the film. Since Captain Vidal is a falangist, or fascist leader, some of the creatures are like symbols of him. For example, the Pale Man is a creature who has his own dinner table of food yet is cannibalistic, like how Vidal figuratively "preys on the weak and the innocent". Plus, the extravagant dinner table the Pale Man is like a symbol of class difference.


       Overall, Pan's Labyrinth is a beautiful feast for the eyes of the imagination that is worthy of being ranked among the likes of Wizard of Oz and the original Alice in Wonderland. It has colorful-looking creatures, beautiful cinematography, and is bound to suck you right in up until the end credits.

        Would I Recommend It?:
        Absolutely, but with a small warning. Even though it is a fairy tale, it is a more adult fairy tale with scenes of blood and violence. So this isn't exactly a family fairy tale, but it is worth checking out for those that aren't too young.

Grade: A+

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