Spain, 1944. The dreamy Ofelia, a 10-year-old obsessed with fairy tales, moves with her pregnant mother to join her stepfather, a cruel Fascist officer who’s stationed in the mountains. Fantasy and reality blur, and Ofelia is soon drawn into a fairy tale of her own…
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Though Pan’s Labyrinth regularly uses occurrences in Ofelia’s fantasy world to influence her normal life, del Toro truly reconciles the real and fantastic around the shared importance of stories. It’s a fitting theme with which to approach a war where so many were completely annihilated in ideological purges, and it explains why Vidal’s true comeuppance isn’t death, but the promise that he’ll be willfully forgotten by all who knew him.
One of the best films ever made from a child’s perspective, not least because it refuses to infantilize the audience. Is this deeply entrancing movie a historical war drama, a gothic horror-fantasy, or both? Remarkably, Del Toro doesn’t say. Instead he casts us headlong into a world where the evils of fascism have many faces, and where historical trauma runs so deep that it takes on the power of myth.
For American audiences who encountered the movie first as young teenagers and have in effect grown up with it, Pan’s Labyrinth remains a waymark, an intensely remembered catharsis of pubertal misery and lostness. My daughter, around thirteen when she first saw it, had her secret internal chaos affirmed with a mythic gravity. This is how myths work—by branding our own raw sense of life’s whirlwind with the fire of an epic travail.
It sweeps me off my feet every time I see it. This is Del Toro's question to the world: why does life have to be so violent, cruel and inhumane? I hope Del Toro returns to this type of film in his career, otherwise I fear I have to say the best is behind him.
Pretty darn endearing, but overall dark and filled with suffering. Even though it was not what I expected, it turned out to be very interesting. I would have liked to see more of the magical world, but I understand that was not what they were going for and I'm perfectly fine with it. Great cinematography.
Guillermo del Toro somehow runs his magical The Devil's Backbone as close as possible with Pan's Labyrinth, a masterful, affecting and endlessly inventive adult fairytale. Oh how we need this del Toro back, and as soon as possible.
The people who made this put their heart and soul into it - and I think it shows ... Brilliant storytelling, dark, beautiful, traumatic and creative. There are not many CGI elements in this film, and so its real, practical creativity communicates to its audience, directly. The film does not date.
This beautiful magical realist masterpiece avoids the heavy monotony that plagues other allegories of Francoist repression, maintaining both its momentum and poignancy throughout. Raw emotions rooted in history and fanciful fantasy interweave themselves into this rich tapestry of conflict and childish innocence.
One of those films I can watch over and over again. So beautiful and tragic, one of del Toro's best in my opinion. It's visually remarkable and it has that comic-book mixed with fairy tale style; this is just an all around great movie.