Reviews

Pan’s Labyrinth

By  · Published on May 17th, 2007

If you were unable to catch Guillermo del Toro’s 2006 masterpiece Pan’s Labyrinth when it was released in theaters, acceptable excuses include being locked in your room for three months or not having gas money to drive to a town that got it, you should thank Sanyo that the DVD player was invented. The movie is a piece of art, carefully crafted with every tool available to the filmmaker. Evident by it’s three Oscar wins for Art Direction, Cinematography, and Makeup, it’s clear that Guillermo and company viewed the raw film stock used as a canvass.

Pan’s Labyrinth
is the fairy tale of Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her descent into fantasy as the world of World War II, fascist Spain collapses around her. After she and her mother (Ariadna Gil) move to an outpost where her mother’s new husband, the cruel Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez), is battling the resistance movement. When Ofelia follows a fairy into the labyrinth, she meets The Faun (Doug Jones) who tells her she’s the princess of the Underground Kingdom and must complete three tasks in order to return home.

But this film is hardly a children’s story. As characteristic of del Toro’s work, his work with monsters is aimed decidedly at an older crowd. For the most part, the story revolves around the Captain dealing with the rebels, Ofelia’s mother being sick with pregnancy, and Mercedes (played elegantly by Maribel Verdu) aiding the rebels under the Captain’s nose. Beside the beautiful images and haunting music of Javier Naverrete are scenes of engrossing violence made all the more intense when surrounded by Ofelia’s vibrant fantasy world and the subdued color palette of reality.

There isn’t much need to discuss the brilliance of the film. Suffice it to say that if you haven’t had the chance to see it yet, refer to my opening comment. If you have seen it, sing praises to the sky that you get to see it again in the comfort of your own home. For the most part, this film loses none of its magic when played on the small screen.

Plus, if you’re a true reject, you’ll love the DVD features. You get a horde of sound options, including subtitle configuration (obviously). The reject gold comes in the form of Disc 2 which features some excerpts from del Toro’s notebook, a filmmaking tool that he considers central to every movie he makes, director commentary, and an awesome interview from the Charlie Rose show featuring del Toro and fellow directing pals Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Alfonso Cuaron who discuss their complete domination of 2006, Inarritu’s handsome looks and the concept of working with themes over plot or character. It’s an incredibly candid view of three friends who happen to be three of the most innovative and talented directors of our time.

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