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"Pan's Labyrinth" Poster

Pan's Labyrinth
El Laberinto del Fauno

Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Adriana Gil, Ivana Baquero, Sergi Lopez, Maribel Verdu, Doug Jones, Alex Angulo
Released by:
Picturehouse Entertainment

In Short: Creative visuals and a compelling story make this film set after the Spanish Civil War a not-to-be-missed movie.

A Maze to Get Happily Lost In
Truth vs. Fantasy: Which Life is Real?

by Jenny Peters

Pan's 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.

Ivana Baquero as Ofelia in "Pan's Labyrinth"
Ariadna Gil and Ivana Baquero in "Pan's Labyrinth"

Their 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.

"Pan's Labyrinth"
Ivana Baquero as Ofelia exploring "Pan's Labyrinth"

These 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 some danger.

As 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)

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