Monday, 4 December 2006

A Creepy Fairytale Review of Pans Labyrinth

Pans Labyrinth- It’s basically a grown up fairy tale!

I went into this film knowing very little about it; I had seen a trailer on my spangly new mobile phone but obviously that doesn’t give too much away, and I knew that a few of my very good friends were saying very good things about it, so when I went to see this film I was basically going in blind. I didn’t even know it was subtitled until I spoke to the ticket guy before we sat down (no ticket was actually involved though, just one of the perks of having friends working in a cinema!), and trust me subtitles are not a fun prospect with a hung-over head.

Anyway, onto more important things, the small matter of the film itself. Set at the end of the Spanish Civil War the story follows young Ofelia as she moves with her heavily pregnant mother to live with her new adoptive father in a remote part of the Spanish country side. Of course while there her father, Captain Vidal, is fighting off a whole bunch of rebels who refuse to give up on the war. To escape this side of her life Ofelia wanders the grounds of her new home and comes across an ancient labyrinth, at the centre of which she comes across a faun. This faun proceeds to tell off how Ofeila is actually a princess and that to regain her rightful status she must complete a number a fantastical tasks, and from here we enter a world of fairies and extraordinary creatures and events. While all this is going her father, and to counteract the fantasy world, the Captain is fighting a brutal war with the guerrillas. Obviously thats not quite all the story, but i'm going to try not to spoil too much of it for you, but if I do, I wholeheartedly apologise.

This is easily one off the best film I have ever had the pleasure off watching, it manages to be both genuinely beautiful, and darkly disturbing while marrying the two completely different worlds seamlessly. The horror of the war, which is often brutally portrayed, is then juxtaposed with the gloriously realised fantasy world into which Ofelia descends.

The acting is outstanding, especially the young Ivana Baquero who plays the lead. Sergi Lopez, who plays Ofelias’ father, Captain Vidal, is also excellent and is a very threatening presence when on screen. Special mention must also go to Doug Jones, who plays the Faun and the Pale Man; he spends all of his time on screen trapped in his two costumes, and gives such life and believability to the characters.

Its not easy to work out who this film is actually aimed at, but in many ways this is to the films credit, any film that is to be considered truly great avoids following cliches and stereotypes and therefore fits into no one specific hole, and that is a true sign of when something can be considered true art.

Another great review by Matt Thomas

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