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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 56 | February 17 , 2008|


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Film Review

'Pan's Labyrinth' is one of the greatest cinematic fairy tales of our time where Director Guillermo del Toro, the master storyteller re-crafted the wonder, thrill and horror of fairy lands for the grownups that leaves us spellbound as it used to in our childhood. This is a movie that gives any grownup the same chill and sensation in the spine through the story of Ofelia, a terrified 11 year old girl, who got confused by the monsters of both real world and the her imaginary fairy tales. It's a hypnotic journey through the dark realities and fairytale fantasies with Guillermo's magical storyline, visual effects, music and characters.

The movie 'Pans Labyrinth' begins in 1944, during the aftermath of Spain's civil war when the fascist Franco using his army hard fisted to uproot the rebellion forces from the far country sides. Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), who's father is already dead in the civil war is first seen travelling with her mother to one of the rural outposts of Spain where Captain Vidal rules the New Spain with utmost brutality and fascism. Ofelia's mother is married to Captain Vidal (Sergei Lopez), and suffering from a frail pregnancy, but Vidal's only interest is in a baby boy, where Ofelia and her mother are just mere inconveniences for having a son.

Ofelia's most treasured possessions are a number of fairy tale books, and on the journey to Vidal's outpost, Ofelia distracts herself reading the story of an ill-fated princess of the underworld. Soon Ofelia meets a dragon fly that kept on following her and discovers a labyrinth just outside the gardens of the military outpost. She also meets Mercedes (Maribel Verdu), a quite but caring house keeper for Vidal, who is actually working as a spy for the rebels in the mountains. But the coldness of Ofelia's surroundings, the brutality of Captain Vidal and the fragile health of her mother was too much to handle by the 11 year old girl. So Ofelia retreats her in to the dreamy world of fairy tales. She got allured by the dragon fly which morphed itself into a flying fairy and lead her into the heart of that mysterious labyrinth.

Inside the labyrinth Ofelia was greeted by Pan, a monstrous Faun (an imaginary character with a goat like head and body made of trees) who's name 'only the wind and trees can pronounce'. Pan declares himself as the most humble servant of Ofelia and says that she actually is the lost princess of the underworld and her father, the king of the underworld is waiting for centuries for the princess to return! But before taking Ofelia to her lost reign, Ofelia must prove that she hasn't become mortal. So Pan, the faun sends her in three increasingly difficult tasks to be finished before the full moon in order to prove that she is the enchanted princess.

Through her adventures in the labyrinth and the tyranny of the both real and imaginary world Ofelia strongly captures us between the horrors of war, the bloody violence's and desperation to exit from that world towards hope and eternity. And the character Ofelia showed us the strength you have to have and the prices you have to pay to follow your instincts. Evana Baquero, played as Ofelia was spectacular in her performance. She is both brave and terrified, but turns all her emotions brilliantly into picturing Ofelia. The movie also superbly captured the spirit of Spanish Revolution and the fascism of Franco in its broad vision.

Pans Labyrinth is an incredibly well-drawn movie that is rooted into fantasy and fascism. And with Ofelia Pans Labyrinth tells us a story enthralled with terrors and promises of both imaginary and real worlds. This visually arresting and emotionally moving Pans Labyrinth is definitely a masterpiece. A must see.

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