Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Guillermo del Toro's world is the world of child - with hands ready to cover eyes and all.

By Matthew Van Allen
Published February 09, 2007

Director: Guillermo del Toro

This isn't the film you think it will be. Forget Alice, forget Wonderland, but do go in knowing that that the old visions produced by Jim Henson (Labyrinth) and Ridley Scott (Legend) are important childhood memories to help you get through this film.

Please don't get me wrong, I mean this in the most respectful way. Pan's Labyrinth is as every bit powerful as the "critics" say it is and it is most definitely in a realm of its own.

However, I think that if one is to understand Guillermo del Toro's world, one must level oneself to the world of child (with hands ready to cover eyes and all). With this being said, know also that this film is surely not a film intended for actual children.

Pan's Labyrinth is set at the end of World War II. The story follows Ophelia, a young girl who travels with her pregnant mother to live in North Spain under the fascist leadership of her new father.

Soon after her arrival, Ophelia discovers an old Labyrinth set up in the outskirts of the village. This Labyrinth becomes Ophelia's key as she unlocks a fantastical world and is visited by a Faun Spirit who offers escape from the crumbling world around her.

Del Toro is quite respected for his brilliant mixture of horror, history and fantasy. His Hollywood offerings (Blade 2, Hellboy) were pleasantly gobbled up by moviegoers and his name has been under scope by the cult movie fanatic ever since writing and directing Cronos back in 1993.

It is not surprising that Pan's Labyrinth and his overall love of monsters has got him a much deserved Oscar nomination (and, more importantly, worldwide recognition).

Pan's Labyrinth follows similar theme's found in the director's earlier work, specifically The Devil's Backbone (confronting fear at a time of loss) and Cronos (quest for immortality). More, this film asks the viewer to follow the footsteps of the young heroine.

As she bravely weaves herself into the Labyrinth, we are asked to unravel carefully the ball and string. We are asked to question alongside her on the journey; all in order to put the line firmly in place and ensure our own way out.

To See or Not to See: See! But be warned. This is neither a musical, nor a playground for Bowie, his tights, and his songs about dancing babies!

Do, however, hum along with old blues eyes on your journey through the labyrinth, "Don't you know that it's worth every treasure on earth to be young at heart?"

Matthew is the RTH film and culture critic. He runs The In Between: Moving Pictures and Culture, which you can find inside Sky Dragon at 27 King William Street.

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By peter (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2007 at 01:06:31

ya, dude, great movie. scary as hell and just a little graphic but great just the same.

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