Pan’s Labyrith (2006)

Have there been more alien and beautiful fairyland creatures on screen?   In Guillermo Del Toro‘s vision, they are fascinating, dangerous, and very far from human.

At the beginning of the Franco dictatorship, a young girl Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) struggles with a difficult family situation.  She is chosen by the fairies to complete a quest.

There is debate whether the ending of the film is happy or sad. I feel that it is both and gains some power from that.

Baquero is excellent but the cook Mercedes (Maribel Verdú) is also good and I think that the humanity of the film largely comes from her performance.

The Faun (Doug Jones performed the body) is a big part of what created the magical, alien feel to the movie.  I could happily watch the scenes of him spliced together.

Ofelia’s vicious stepfather (Sergi López) is pure villain which I think is a bit unusual.  I suppose I expected him to be clever or charming or something. He has zero redeeming qualities.  None.

The violence is heart-sickening and I couldn’t watch some of it.  Nevertheless, I prefer film violence to be unpleasant rather than the kind that is pure spectacle.

The film was a difficult viewing but it’s artfully made I do recommend it.

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