Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  

Original title:  El Laberinto Del Fauno

Spain/Mexico/USA, 2006.  , , , , .  Screenplay by Guillermo Del Toro.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , Guillermo del Toro, , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Don’t be tricked by the promotional material that bills this one as a fantasy film; it’s actually a war drama laced with fantastical elements, and thanks to some brilliant direction by Guillermo Del Toro, manages to exist in both genres quite comfortably. A little girl obsessed with fairy tales arrives in the Spanish countryside with her pregnant mother () to join her stepfather (), a brutal soldier fighting Franco’s side of the civil war. The girl’s fanciful wanderings take her deep into the nearby forest, where she encounters the entrance to a labyrinth guarded by a faun who declares her the magical underworld’s long lost princess. She is entreated to perform three tasks that will prove her worthy of re-entry into her original domain, but achieving them is no easy task when the occurrences of the world above are many times scarier than anything the realm of ghouls and goblins could possibly produce. The story goes in many directions that don’t tie up well enough, but it is engrossing, exceptionally well-acted (particularly Y Tu Mama Tambien‘s  as a maid secretly on the rebels’ side) and gorgeously shot. The heroine at the centre is appealing and sometimes frustrating, strangely stubborn instead of independent; the world of fantasy that she discovers is brought to life with exceptionally graceful visual and makeup effects, but with so little depth that a level of wonder is missing and hampers the film’s effect.

The Criterion Collection:  #838

Academy Awards:  Best Cinematography; Best Makeup; Best Art Direction
Nominations: Best Original Screenplay; Best Original Score; Best Foreign Language Film

Cannes Film Festival:  In Competition

Golden Globe Award Nomination:  Best Foreign Language Film

Toronto International Film Festival:  2006

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