Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Original title: El Laberinto Del Fauno
Spain/Mexico/USA, 2006. Estudios Picasso, Tequila Gang, Esperanto Filmoj, Sententia Entertainment, Telecinco. Screenplay by Guillermo Del Toro. Cinematography by Guillermo Navarro. Produced by Alvaro Augustin, Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro, Bertha Navarro, Frida Torresblanco. Music by Javier Navarrete. Production Design by Eugenio Caballero. Costume Design by Lala Huete. Film Editing by Bernat Vilaplana. Academy Awards 2006. Boston Film Critics Awards 2006. Cannes Film Festival 2006. Golden Globe Awards 2006. Independent Spirit Awards 2006. Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 2006. National Board of Review Awards 2006. New York Film Critics Awards 2006. Toronto International Film Festival 2006. Washington Film Critics Awards 2006.
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 (Ariadna Gil) to join her stepfather (Sergi López), 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 Maribel Verdú 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.