Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

The Spanish Civil war is winding down.  Many men have been killed, and many children are without their fathers.  Ofelia is one such girl, but don’t fret, her mother has remarried, gotten knocked-up and is moving them to an old mill in the country to be with her new hubby – a sadistic captain in the Spanish army.  The Captain could give two shits about Ofelia, and only wants to concern himself with his new wife and the birth of their son.  Ofelia is a curious lass who loves fairy tales, and upon her arrival to the mill she sees what she believes is a fairy and follows it to an ancient labyrinth; which has a huge descending staircase at its center.  She is quickly reprimanded by Mercedes, the Captain’s housekeeper and is sent away from the labyrinth.

Her curiosity gets the best of her as she returns that night, and goes down to hole and meets a faun.  The faun tells her that she has returned home, she used to be a princess and had gotten lost.  Despite the fact that he is totally creepy, she buys into this as he tells her that she must complete three tasks that are found in a magic book he gives her, in order for her to return to her real parents in the underworld.  Her first task is to kill a giant toad who has a key inside it, she completes this without much trouble, but ends up a dirty mess and disgraces herself in front of her new father.

Her mother isn’t doing well at all and is forced to be sedated and on bed rest until the baby is born.  The faun is on a strict schedule and is faun-pissed because Ofelia is slacking in her tasks.  Since she is spending all of her time with her mommy, the faun agrees to help out by placing a magic root under her bed to aid in her recovery, so Ofelia can stay focused.  Ofelia goes on to the next task, which is to retrieve a knife from a strange room.  She is told not to eat anything there, just get the knife and GTFO.  After drawing a magic door and entering the room, she sees an eyeless creature at the head of a huge banquet table covered in food.  After using the toad key to obtain the knife, she has a few grapes… who is going to know.  This awakes the child-eating monster at the end of the table that almost has Ofelia for lunch.

The faun is totally faun-pissed off, and tells her that she blew her chance of ever going home.  Everything around the mill starts going to shit, as the Captain has captured some rebels he has been chasing, and those inside the Captain’s home who have been helping the rebels are worried that their secret will soon be known.  The Captain has also discovered the root keeping her mother well, and discards it, which causes mommy to quickly fall back into poor health.  She soon dies during childbirth, leaving Ofelia alone.  After being discovered as a rebel agent, Mercedes is forced to flee the house, but says she will return for Ofelia.

Ofelia isn’t going to wait for her, and decides to take off, but not without her new baby brother.  She snatches the kid from the Captain’s room and makes for the labyrinth. The faun is there waiting for her with knife in-hand.  He says that spilling the blood of the baby is the final task to send her back home.  She doesn’t trust a man-goat holding a dagger, nor does she want any harm to fall to her brother.  The Captain tracks her down, and sees her talking to herself and shoots her dead, snatching the baby up.  He intern is killed by the rebels, taking the baby to raise as their own.  It turns out that making the right choice to protect the baby was Ofelia’s third task, as she is rewarded with an eternity next to her loving parents in a magical world.  It turns out that faun wasn’t full of shit after all.

There is a lot going on in this movie, and no plot synopsis by us is going to cover it all.  This is one that you are going to have to see for yourself in order to get all of the meaning and subtly out of it.

Alex’s Thoughts:  What can you say about this movie that hasn’t been said before. It is absolutely perfect.  Guillermo del Toro is one on the best writers and directors out there, and can really do no wrong in my book.  This was one of those movies that I had just been putting off, telling myself that I would see it eventually.  Remembering all of the crap I have watched recently, as well as looking at all of the lesser movies in my Netflix queue; I decided I needed to treat myself to something good.  I was in no way disappointed.  Del Toro can set a mood like no one else, and that is certainly the case here.  Visually it is excellent as well, and that isn’t even taking into account the creatures!  Doug Jones pulls off The Faun and the Pale Man perfectly as is the case with every character he brings to life, the man is a genius.  I could go one for hours on this movie, and if you’ve seen it you know why.  If you haven’t seen it yet, please watch it and don’t be frightened off by the subtitles.  Alex Rates This Movie 10/10

Tim’s Thoughts:Yeah this is a no brainer, this movie is beautiful and haunting. There is little I can say that every critic, or Alex hasn’t, Pan’s Labyrinth is one of the best movies made not only visually, but also with its amazing storytelling. Tim Rates This Movie:10/10

Erin’s Thoughts:  This was a movie I never got around to seeing when it first came out, but I’m glad I finally did. I didn’t really know what it was about heading into it; I thought it was predominantly a fantasy film, when really it’s focused on the gritty aftermath of war as seen through the eyes of a young child. I thought Del Toro did a good job weaving back and forth between the real world and that of the hidden kingdom. Even with having to read subtitles, the plot wasn’t too complicated to follow. It was, however, much more violent than I thought it was going to be, again, thinking it was mostly fantasy. Although the gore isn’t any worse than what’s in many movies these days, I wasn’t prepared for it. Twelve-year-old Ivana Baquero did a great job carrying the film, although the best performance was arguably by Sergi Lopez who played her vicious stepfather. The film got a lot of attention when it came out for it visuals – and both the cinematography and make-up effects are breathtaking. In the end, I thought it was a heart-wrenching yet hopeful film, where a young child finds a way to rise above the cruelty of her war-torn life.  Erin Rates This Movie 8.5/10

You’re getting older, and you’ll see that life isn’t like your fairy tales. The world is a cruel place. And you’ll learn that, even if it hurts.”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix Queue