Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pan's Labyrinth

"I've had so many names... Old names that only the wind and the trees can pronounce."

Directed by:
Guillermo Del Toro

Written by:
Guillermo Del Toro

Ivana Baquero
Sergi Lopez
Maribel Verdu

My rating: 5/5

The really striking thing about Pan's Labyrinth is how it is able to surpass any expectations that it's hype had suggested. It is a film like nothing I have ever seen and while it may not be everyone's cup of tea, the quality of the story and its storyteller cannot be denied.

The story cuts between the harsh world of the end of Franco's fascist reign in 1940s Spain and the world of an isolated little girl and the magical underworld she encounters. The film is not to be confused with children's films like Labyrinth or Harry Potter. It is full of violence and very complex themes of tragedy.

Ofelia, our young hero has moved to an army base where her mother's new husband lives. As they wait for her mother to deliver her new baby, Ofelia learns the true nature of her evil new stepfather. Because of the horror of her new life, Ofelia retreats to a world in which she meets a Faun who tells her a story of how she is a princess but must perform three tasks in order to prove it is truly her. While completing these difficult and gruesome tasks, Ofelia grows so attached to the notion of living in this magical world, rather than the real one that she grows increasingly determined to succeed in her endeavours. As the story twists and turns, it becomes increasingly dire and nasty, leading Ofelia deeper into her magical world. It is never specified whether the magic is real or imaginary but both possibilities are open to interpretation.

The story is both warm and tragic. It seduces with it's stunning visuals while at the same time repelling with the viciousness of its violence. However, with it's stunning cinematography, it's perfect performances and its unprecented mix of childish innocence and cold, tragic cruelty it is definitely the type of film which will be remembered in years to come and hopefully in February when the Oscar nominations are announced.

- Charlene Lydon 30/11/06

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