Pan's Labyrinth (15)



Drama (2006)
119mins Mex/Sp

Starring: Ivana Baquero, Sergi Lopez, Maribel Verdu, Doug Jones
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Writer(s): Guillermo Del Toro
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Dark and brooding fairy-tale set against the fascist regime of Spain. A family moves into an old house, which includes an ancient, ruined labyrinth in the back garden. The spirited young daughter Ofelia is befriended by the fawn Pan, who lives in the maze and entreats her to complete three challenges. In the process, the girl falls foul of her new stepfather, Captain Vidal, who has no time for her childish fantasies.

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Won Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Make-Up at The 79th Academy Awards® (25th February 2007)

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LondonNet Film Review

Pan's Labyrinth
Pan's Labyrinth is a brilliant fusion of genres. Part fantasy and part historical drama set against the backdrop of 1944 post-civil war Spain, the film is the product of another talented writer and director out of Mexico, Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Blade 2, The Devil's Backbone)...

Pan's Labyrinth Poster. Film released by Optimum ReleasingYoung Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her remarried mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) move to the Spanish countryside and into the house of Carmen's new husband, Vidal (Sergi Lopez), a captain in Franco's army. While the rest of Europe is occupied with the Second World War, Spain has just experienced a civil war that sees the rise of fascist dictator Francisco Franco. Ofelia discovers a labyrinth at the captain's house, and wanders in to discover it comes to life. Pan, the magical guardian of the labyrinth, tells her that she is the princess of the magical kingdom and must perform three tasks to rise above her human form and gain immortality.

The captain, meanwhile, is dealing with the Spanish "maquis", a group of anti-Franco guerrillas, who wish to assassinate him. The two portions of the film weave in and out, as Ofelia attempts to carry out each task in her world of magic and deal with the reality of a cruel stepfather amidst a mini-war.

The subtleties in del Toro's direction are phenomenal; his attention to detail heightens the senses. The sound in particular is so sharp, it's as if every piece of material in the set has been miked. Each of the general's movements is accompanied by the sound of the thick leather of his expensive boots and gloves straining against the movement. The movie is beautifully filmed; during the day golden sunlight lights the Spanish countryside where Capitan Vidal resides and the nights are gloomily dark.

The amazing beings del Toro has created are unlike anything we've ever seen before. His imaginative versions of the satyr Pan, flying fairies and a creature that seems to consist of skin loosely hanging off a faceless skeleton are worthy of a Harry Potter film, but far more frightening. Pan himself remains mysterious throughout, we never quite know whether he's real or a product of Ofelia's imagination and it's unclear whether he's to be trusted.

The cast is excellent. Baquero gives us a brave and virtuous Ofelia, whose imagination helps her to escape the rule of the captain. Lopez's turn as the captain is a frightening embodiment of fascism and proves the true monster of the film. The beautiful musical score by Javier Navarrete carries us adeptly through battle and fantasy.

The film is at once emotionally moving and ingeniously creative; it offers a wholly unique take on fascism and revolution alongside a world of fantasy. Del Toro turned down the third installment of Harry Potter, which eventually went to his friend and Pan's Labyrinth producer Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men), but judging by Pan's Labyrinth, he would have made an exciting and beautiful film, bursting with imagination.

- Stephanie Hall

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