Sunday, January 7, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Yesterday I ventured to the theaters to see Pan's Labyrinth, and let me tell ya, it definitely lives up to the hype...stunning, touching, heartbreaking and beautiful are just a few words to describe it.

Ofelia travels with her pregnant mother to live with her stepfather, the Captain of Franco's army. He is a ruthless man who is intent on wiping out any resistance to Franco's cause. Ofelia is fascinated with her fairy tale books and uses these as an escape from the horrors happening around her. She discovers a labyrinth, where she encounters a faun who tells her she is the long-lost princess of the king of the underworld. Throughout the turmoil of her earthly life, she must complete three tasks to prove she is this long-lost princess.

Guillermo del Toro, who's The Devil's Backbone is a favorite of mine, creates two surreal worlds in this film. One is the war-ravaged Spain that Ofelia lives in, filled with violence, secrets and pain, the other is the spectacular fantasy realm she encounters. The visuals in both worlds are breathtaking while the story is at times heartbreaking.

Everything works in this film, from the well-developed characters, wonderful acting and a fairy-tale like story. While I do wish the fantasy realm was more the focus, it just would not have been the same film had it not also focused on the real world where Ofelia lives. The ugliness and pain that Ofelia faces in her world comes into sharp contrast with the fantasy world she wants to inhabit.

I know most of you have already seen this movie, or at least heard all the praise it is receiving, so I won't go into a full-fledged review. If you are unsure whether or not to check this film out, I highly recommend it, though it is not really a horror movie. Its otherworldly feel, as well as a powerful story and amazing visuals, make it a definite must-see film.

Order it on Amazon!

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