El Laberinto del Fauno
by: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Adriana Gil, Ivana Baquero,
Sergi Lopez, Maribel Verdu, Doug Jones, Alex Angulo
Released by: Picturehouse
visuals and a compelling story make this film
set after the Spanish Civil War a not-to-be-missed
A Maze to Get Happily Lost In
Truth vs. Fantasy: Which
Life is Real?
Labyrinth” is a fascinating film. In what is surely
his best work to date, writer-director Guillermo del Toro
(“Hellboy,” “Cronos”) transports
audiences into two very distinct worlds with his story
of a young girl's experiences in war-torn, Fascist-controlled Spain circa 1944. The Spanish, subtitled tale begins as the
girl, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero, a wide-eyed dark beauty who
gives a luminous performance), travels along with her
pregnant mother to the mountainous enclave where her new
stepfather commands a force of Francisco Franco's troops.
home is an armed camp, as the cruel captain violently
wields an iron hand in controlling the rebel Republican
forces trying to overthrow Franco's oppressive regime.
It's no place for a child or a pregnant woman, but Ofelia
and her mother are nonetheless thrust into the middle
of the conflict as the violence escalates, both outside
and in their own home, at the hands of the arrogant captain
whose only concern is for his as-yet-unborn son.
reality-based events play out compellingly against another
more fanciful story, that of Ofelia's magical meeting
with Pan, a faun who leads her into a garden labyrinth
after revealing that the girl is the long-lost princess
of an ancient world that is entered through the maze.
Using astonishing visuals and paying homage to the myriad
fairy tales that have come before, Del Toro creates a
fantasy world for Ofelia that transports her from her
harsh reality into a place of adventure, magic and even
the two stories reach their climax, we're left to wonder—are
Ofelia's experiences in the labyrinth actually the real
thing? Or does the harshness of her real life simply force
her into an imaginary world that exists only in her mind?
Whichever resolution you chose to believe, one thing is
certain: “Pan's Labyrinth” is a compelling,
imagination-tweaking film that will stay in your mind
for days after you see it.
(Updated: 10/10/07 AK)