Saturday, May 19, 2007


By Reymundo Salao

El Laberinto Del Fauno also known as Pan’s Labyrinth is set in post-Civil War Spain. Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a young girl moves with her mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil), into the home of Captain Vidal (Sergi López), in an abandoned mill in the middle of dark, dangerous woods. Vidal is leading his team of soldiers against resistance fighters--and he will do whatever is necessary to kill every last one of them. As Vidal bosses around the pregnant Carmen, a flying creature leads Ofelia through a garden labyrinth and into an underground cave ruled by a fawn, who believes that Ofelia might be the lost princess of this strange yet magical place. To prove she is royalty, Ofelia must complete three tasks, each more difficult and terrifying than the previous one. Meanwhile, Vidal is becoming more and more paranoid, torturing and murdering seemingly at will.

This film is Mexico's entry to the Academy Awards, in the category of Best Film in a Foreign Language (2006). In 2007, this film became one of the few fantasy films ever nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars. Meanwhile, this film received 22 minutes of applause at the Cannes Film Festival. Despite the film's translated title suggesting otherwise, the character of the Fawn is not Pan. Del Toro stipulates that he felt the character of Pan was too dark and sexual a character to play in a film opposite an 8 year old girl. The film is only called 'Pan's Labyrinth' in America and the English-speaking countries; everywhere else the film is called 'The Labyrinth of the Fawn'.

This film is directed by Guillermo Del Toro, who has gained fame as a respectable director in the fantasy genre. He directed CRONOS, THE DEVIL’s BACKBONE, BLADE 2, and HELLBOY. Del Toro is famous for compiling books full of notes and drawings about his ideas before turning them into films, something he regards essential to the process. He left years worth of notes for Pan's Labyrinth in the back of a cab, and thought it was the end of the project. However, the cab driver found them and, realizing their importance, tracked him down and returned them at great personal difficulty and expense. Del Toro was convinced that this was a blessing and it made him ever more determined to complete the film. The English subtitles were translated and written by Del Toro himself. He no longer trusts translators after the results in his previous subtitled movies.

Guillermo Del Toro creates a fairy tale with dark & gritty depth. Its violent & cold-blooded scenes make it a film more targeted for adults and mature viewers. After the first week movie theaters in Mexico had to place signs over the movie posters warning about the graphic violence as parents were taking small children to see it. Nevertheless, the film is magnificent in its darkness. It makes me think of it as a more realistic, more Oscar-worthy version of Tim Burton’s work, only as a pop comparison. Del Toro even surpasses Burton in reputation now.

Del Toro exhibits his passion for the mystically bizarre and interestingly grotesque, as we are introduced to creatures and places that seem to bridge fairy tale fantasy and creature-feature horror flicks. Del Toro beautifully weaves reality and fantasy together side by side, and creates a thought-provoking masterpiece that intends to be a harrowing classic. A must-see, I give it a golden endorsement.

No comments: