Pan's Labyrinth

Guillermo del Toro
Ariadna Gil, Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú

Reviewer: Glenda Vasse

In Pan’s Labyrinth we meet a young girl called Ofelia who has to move with her mother to an army camp in a forest in Spain because her stepfather, a captain in the Spanish army, wants his new wife to be near him when their son is born. The forest around the camp is inhabited by guerrillas who continue to fight against Franco’s oppression, but Ofelia goes to explore the area anyway, and discovers a mysterious labyrinth and an even more mysterious faun inside it.

From the title and synopsis you’d expect Pan’s Labyrinth to be like Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, and you’d be very much mistaken in that assumption. Pan’s Labyrinth has no songs, no Muppets, no David Bowie’s crotch and certainly no cutesy goblins. Pan’s Labyrinth has no cutesy anything, and most certainly deserves its 15 certificate. You might not expect it, but the movie has its fair share of gruesome and gory scenes, and even when the violence is only implied it still leaves the viewer uncomfortable. It’s certainly not the kind of movie you’d bring younger siblings to, but it is the kind of movie to watch with like-minded friends who like their fairy tales to be darker and grittier than usual.

Pan’s Labyrinth mostly takes place in the ‘real’ world of Franco’s post-war Spain with Ofelia occasionally visiting the ‘fairy’ world. The fairy realm isn’t all rainbows and sunshine either, so there is no escaping the dark atmosphere of the movie, and even the ending is only happy depending on your interpretation of it.

So don’t go in expecting happiness, cheer and good times. Do go in expecting a wonderful movie with a beautiful story. Oh, and English subtitles, since the movie is in Spanish.