“El labyrinto del fauno”
Information below is taken from the following link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0457430/
1944, fascist Spain. A young girl named “Ofelia” is sent along with her pregnant mother (Ariadna Gil) to meet her new step-father – a fascist leader of the Spanish army who is ruthless and abusive. Later, she meets an old faun in a mythical labyrinth and her life suddenly turns…
A friend of mine criticised Guillermo del Toro’s masterwork by saying that it combines two genres that don’t quite fit: a children’s adventure story combined with a gritty, gorey war story. In essence he disliked this movie because it combined a children’s story with an adult story.
In simple terms, the two halves of Pan’s Labyrinth are like this. We constantly cut back and forth between the two stories, and it works exceptionally well with providing the piece with light and dark shades. It provides the piece with magic and the thought-provoking. The enchanting and the disturb. The sense of wonder and the sense of shock.
The ‘children’s’ section of the story really begins when Ofelia is told by an old faun in a labyrinth that she’s actually a Princess; however, she must complete three tasks to be able to become one. I think Ofelia’s story is one of the many charming sections of this film. Children are so often invited in by stories, and are very much driven by imagination. Pan’s Labyrinth does this exceptionally well: due to the sense of wonder and awe it creates. Not only that, but it brings out the inner 10-year-old in any ‘hardened man’. Even Phil Mitchell.
(Actually, on second thoughts, Phil Mitchell wouldn’t watch this kind of film. Ever).
The most famous of the three tasks that Ofelia has to complete is the second one. Ofelia has to go to the ‘lair of the Pale man’ to collect an ornate dagger. She is accompanied by three magical fairies to guide and help her in this task. The lair of the ornate dagger is guarded by a splendidly gruesome fairy-tale-esque creature: The Pale Man. (Let’s just say, his eyes aren’t supposed to be where they are). However, Ofelia eats some of the grapes on the table and the Pale Man wakes up. Is Pan’s Labyrinth paying homage to Pandora’s box? Does the Pale Man represent the evil of this world?
The other side of the film isn’t as enchanting as the one I have just discussed, yet it is still as well-executed and well-directed as Ofelia’s story. The side of the story concerns itself with the a fight against anti-fascist protestors against Ofelia’s ‘father’, Vidal (Sergi Lopez). Vidal is as gruesome as the pale man. (Albeit the fact that his eyes are in the ‘correct’ place). He is involved – in what I think – to be the most powerful scene(s) of the movie. Not because of what he does, but the way he plays it. He has an enamel sharp face, he is sly, subtly sarcastic, and has the slightest grin when it comes to torturing the occasional anti-fascist protestor with his handy ‘torturing kit’.
There will be those that say you cannot combine a children’s story with an adult one. Yet, I would argue this to be wrong. Don’t all children’s stories contain dark subject matter. After all, humpty dumpty falls of his wall…and is never put back together at all.
Magical, enchanting, disturbing and in some places: heart-warming. Pan’s Labyrinth is a fable about free-will which will provoke thought and stimulate your imagination like no other film could. Definitely worth a watch.