Wednesday, April 16

Blindspot: Pan's Labyrinth

I think I found a suitable family film. Not only does it introduce children to a different, darker fairy tale, but it's set in a war period, so there's guns, violence and drama for the adults. Also, despite the bloodshed (and areas of bloodshed and ample slashing), I find myself wanting to watch the film over again - primarily due to the tale that's embedded in the fight. While I'm not quite versed with Guillermo del Toro's work, Pan's Labyrinth make a great recommendation in finding out more from the director, as it offers a fantastic tale that doesn't go short of getting you fascinated.


The war has just finished, but there are still troops fighting the rebellion in Spain, when Ofelia, along with her mother, were sent to live with her mother's new husband, the captain. The captain was a vicious man who liked having order, and was very used to getting his way. He showed no compassion for Ofelia, even if her mother kept on prodding her to refer to the man as her father. Ofelia's adventure starts when she discovers a fairy, who then leads her to the labyrinth that was just behind the grounds. There, she meets a faun, who proclaims her to be the long lost princess, and in order to rejoin her father at the underworld, must accomplish three tasks before the full moon rises. 

The film was indadvertedly divided into two: the war proper and the fantasy world we find Ofelia in. While the war gives bloodshed, and reveals the real intent and personalities of the characters involved, I was more taken by the fantasy parts, wanting to see more of Ofelia's adventures, and that the world that she escapes herself in. The world itself was fascinating, and the creatures introduced were very different from typical fantasy creatures. The faun, for example - I didn't expect the faun to be that grand, but his personality and looks certainly added to the mystical parts of the film. The film, as a whole, was wonderful. There's no dull moment, whether it be at the world of the adults, or the world of the child. The film was also well-written, and since the director himself translated the work to its accuracy, I can definitely vouch for the statement. A quick word: I think it's a testimony to the film's work that it be translated accurately because how will it convey the same message if the words and intent were translated differently? I do commend Guillermo del Toro for that; it's not something that directors normally do. 

While the tale itself was great, I do have to wonder why del Toro would incorporate the tale in the premise of a war. Why a war? Why not take the tale and just blow it to proportions, having the entire film revolve around it? Are we bound to see beyond the manners and the ways of the people then? To see the injustice, from the various forms of bloodshed, to plain torture? Or was it so there's a point for escapism? The end of the film also had me wondering if there was a possibility that it was a figment of her imagination (though there are scenes that won't support the claim), and the final scenes provided with more questions than answers. 

It was very difficult not to be taken away by the film. It was well written, and the visual work certainly supported the tale. The characters, particularly Ofelia, the captain, and Mercedes, had strong personalities, making them stand out from the film. The faun himself was an interesting character, and the pale man was a very iconic figure for this film. This film, I could imagine myself watching over and over again.


Final Word: A wonderful piece by Guillermo del Toro. I've only seen minimal of his directing work, and this is certainly worth the praise.

Cast: Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Year: 2006

14 comments:

  1. Great review! I love this film so much. I think it's my favorite foreign film, I never tire of watching it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was a wonderful film, and I really see myself watching the film over and over again.

      Delete
  2. This is such a layered film, indeed. The complex unraveling of themes, from fantasy to death to war to love to childhood, innocence and the destruction of such, is all so gloriously painted here. Marvelous film, and exceptional review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that it's a universal film, in a way that it can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It's a great film, it doesn't disappoint!

      Delete
  3. So glad you liked this one. I agree, it's tough to not let it take you away. Such a rare world that Del Toro created here. And it definitely gets better with multiple viewings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm definitely giving this film another go, maybe sometime later in the year. It's something I see myself watching over and over again.

      Delete
  4. So dig -

    The first time I ever heard the words "Pan's Labyrinth" said aloud was in the run-up to the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. While trying to cobble together the selections that one wants to see over the course of ten days, so much information is thrown at fest-goers at once...so it's easy to skip past something. When going through the festival programme (back before I knew who Guillermo del Toro was), my wife said "This could be interesting" and proceeded to read the film synopsis. I responded with the dumbest six words I have ever strung together:

    "That doesn't sound like my thing".

    Oops.

    In the eight years since then, I have - like you - been taken away by this film time and again. I find myself writhing with disgust and terror over what happens on the ground, and delighted and amazed by what happens underneath the ground. We forget it sometimes because here in North America we haven't had to deal with it for centuries, but times of war have a profound effect on children. They need to escape the atrocities somehow, and this fantastical escape by Ofelia - from not just the war, but also the icky family dynamic her mother brought her into - is a desperately needed escape.

    And a beautiful one!

    Glad to see you dug it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was really an amazing film. I wished there was more of the other world that Del Toro created. It's something that I would definitely see over and over again.

      Delete
  5. I love the idea of a world within a world and obviously so does Del Toro. When I first watched this film in theaters I found it disturbing and yet somehow alluring at the same time. I've found looking back though that his characters are so enduring! Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Del Toro created interesting characters, both from the war reality and the world Ofelia escapes in. He also created worlds that can bring thoughts and observations. I'm definitely going to revisit the film in the later part of the year.

      Delete
  6. This is my favorite del Toro film. I love the look and feel of the film and the story is brimming with a great sense of imagination. A terrific piece of dark fantasy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In terms of fantasy worlds, this is one exquisite world he created - I should have seen this sooner.

      Delete
  7. A wonderful film, and I wish I'd remember more of it in order to be able to comment on your thoughts about the war setting and the last scenes. In my mind, there's not much war but a lot of phantasy. I think my take on the war was that if she was imagining the things, it would be because she needed to escape the war that was going on?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also thought that it might have been her imagination, but it changed during her last scenes. The fantasy world did manage to take her away from the war and her family problems, even for a short while.

      Delete