Pan’s Labyrinth

The guests having all left this morning and it being a quiet Labor Day afternoon, I thought why not watch the rest of Pan’s Labyrinth, the wonderful movie by Guillermo del Toro, the great Mexican director. So I did. I had purchased the DVD several months ago and watched a bit of it a couple weeks ago. But this time I watched it from the beginning to the end and it shook me with its earth-shattering tragedy balanced by its profound and, yes, wondrous fantasy. This fantasy experienced by an eleven-year old girl who alone can see the fairies, the Fawn, and various other characters in the labyrinth, is balanced by the terrible struggle of a sadistic fascist captain and his men fighting the remaining rebels in the woods in 1944 in Franco’s Spain. I breathlessly focused on the well-presented subtitles — the movie is in Spanish — as the action moved excitingly on, alternating between the struggles in the real world and those of the girl performing her tests in the fantasy world to prove to the Fawn that she indeed is the real princess. It turns out that she wins her struggle and the evil captain is defeated but there are prices for this victory. I can’t find the words to express the power of the ending in the fantasy world as it intersects with the real world. Yes, it’s a totally profound and beautiful movie. Y’all should see it.

Update: I should mention that I first heard about this movie on Steve Hayes’ blog. He has a good discussion of it here, and there are a number of interesting comments bringing out points I left out. But I would see the movie first: the comments give away a lot of the action.

  1. barbara’s avatar

    Hi Mardé,
    How’s life ?
    I have never seen the film “Pan’s Labyrinth”,but it sounds like it has an excellent story to tell. It’s always nice to have a film or book review from a friend.
    And bravo for sticking with the subtitles. My in-law’s N° 1 complaint about subtitles ” they are too quick; I just barely have read what they said ” ! 😆

    See ya soon.

  2. Mardé’s avatar

    Hi Barbara. Thanks for your comments. Life is not bad, good in fact. And yes, this is a great movie; you forget the fact that you’re reading subtitles after a while. They are very big and easy to read, not often the case in many “foreign” films. The movie is very strong in places but well worth the experiencing. You ought to try it out. Thanks, and see you soon too.

  3. GeologyJoe’s avatar

    This was probably the best sub-titled movie I have ever seen. The first time I watched it, thou, I made the mistake of reclining, having a beer and starting the movie at 9:30pm. Sleep Land was not that far behind. The second time I got it going in the morning. The creepy part was the creature the the eyes in its hands.

  4. Mardé’s avatar

    Yes, that’s right Joe, the hungry creature with eyes in its hands was sure not to be trifled with. Big mistake by Ofelia. When I first tried to watch the movie, in a group, that scene got a couple people to get up and leave, and I had to shut the DVD down at that point. I was glad to be able to watch it yesterday in peace and quiet and let the full effects sink in.

  5. Steve Hayes’s avatar

    I’m glad you liked it.

    I saw it on the big screen, and don’t yet have the DVD, but would like to. On the big screen, I think, it is probably more powerful.

  6. Mardé’s avatar

    Yes, when you’re totally enveloped by screen and sound it must be a powerful effect. A great movie. The lullaby musical theme is haunting as well, and stays in the mind, I find. It almost seems to tell the story by itself. Very fitting I thought.

  7. Janice’s avatar

    This kind of movie is right up my alley. I always want to see a movie like this because I adore anything that reminds me magic is real! ~ Janice

  8. Mardé’s avatar

    Thanks for your comment, Janice. :smile:

    Oh, would that it were so! That magic were real. There is space left for it to be real at the end of the movie: Ofelia dies in the real world but lives again in the magic world, the world of wonder and beauty.

    Perhaps it is true.

  9. Steve Hayes’s avatar

    I’ve just seen “The Golden Compass”, where the protagonist is a girl of the same age. It’s quite an enjoyable film, but falls far, far short of Pan’s labyrinth. Of coursde it’s aimed at kids, and has been a bit oversimplified from the book as well.

  10. Mardé’s avatar

    Yes, I heard or rather read somewhere that “The Golden Compass” was going to be an “event”. Glad to get your take on it. Did I read that Pan’s labyrinth was to be the first in a trilogy? If the first sequel is anything like the quality of the original, it will be well worth seeing. Thanks again for your opinion on “The Golden Compass”.

    I rarely see movies (should see more) but one I saw a while back that left an deep impression is “Wings of Desire” by Wim Wenders.


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