I saw Pan’s Labyrinth last week, the first film I’ve seen for a long while. What a beautiful film, one of the best I’ve seen. Sometimes I have trouble with subtitles, but I didn’t even notice with this.
Visually Pan’s Labyrinth is stunning; the look of it, the costumes, graphics, light and dark. The story underneath draws you in; it’s meaty, dark, set against the backdrop of war. You genuinely care for Ofelia. Is her belief in the other world real, or a way of escaping the terrors of her world? The last scene stayed with me a long time.
A lot of people have called Pan’s Labyrinth an adult fairy tale, and it is, but I think it’s a morality tale as well. It shows the power of a child’s imagination, but also how decisions aren’t black and white; everything has a consequence. At times it is brutally violent, but you can’t tell a story like this without violence. The violence has an honesty; it shows the darkness of the world Ofelia is trying to escape from, and like with the tales of The Brothers Grimm (before fairy tales were butchered to protect tender eyes and ears), the true strength of Pan’s Labyrinth is only revealed when it shocks and scares.
I can’t recommend Pan’s Labyrinth more highly. The music is beautiful and the film stays with you, as good movies should. It amazes me that something like 300 (glorifying violence, an allegory for modern America and its war) can get so much attention, while Pan’s Labyrinth remains relatively unknown, a film which depicts the best and worst of the human spirit, hope out of darkness. It’s what storytelling should be. Please, please see it.