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In 1944 falangist Spain, a girl, fascinated with fairy-tales, is sent along with her pregnant mother to live with her new stepfather, a ruthless captain of the Spanish army. During the night, she meets a fairy who takes her to an old faun in the center of the labyrinth. He tells her she's a princess, but must prove her royalty by surviving three gruesome tasks. If she fails, she will never prove herself to be the the true princess and will never see her real father, the king, again. Written by
Björk was so affected by this film that after seeing it, she went home and wrote the song "Pneumonia". See more »
When Ofelia goes down the stairs in the labyrinth and is talking to the Faun, his shadow still shows Doug Jones' legs while they are in the stilts. The special effects crew took out his physical legs, but the shadow still exists. See more »
A long time ago, in the underground realm, where there are no lies or pain, there lived a Princess who dreamed of the human world. She dreamed of blue skies, soft breeze, and sunshine. One day, eluding her keepers, the Princess escaped. Once outside, the brightness blinded her and erased every trace of the past from her memory. She forgot who she was and where she came from. Her body suffered cold, sickness, and pain. Eventually, she died. However, her father, the King, always knew...
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The two "Stick Insects" are credited as Cheech and Chong, after which it says "MAY THEY REST IN PEACE". See more »
Entartaining but not one of the very best movies from last year
When I heard first time about the movie made by the Mexican director Guillermo del Toro that was a mixture of many genres, including drama, fantasy, thriller, and fairy tale for adults that takes place in Spain of 1944 in two parallel words, one of unbearable bleak and horrifying reality, and the other of deliciously dark magic fantasy, I wanted very much to see it. I knew that the movie has been praised by many critics and has made hundreds top lists of last year, that it was nominated for countless awards including six Academy awards and it won three Oscars, and that it had received 20 minutes standing ovation at Cannes. The main reason for me was the fact that I love del Toro's earlier film, "The Devil's Backbone" (2001), the ultimate ghost story that goes beyond the genre and very successfully mixes horror, suspense, and coming of age during the war time story.
I hoped and expected "Pan's Labyrinth" to be as compelling, insightful, interesting, and engaging as "The Devil's Backbone" was. I finally saw "Pan's Labyrinth" couple of days ago and I was disappointed. The movie has an interesting concept, even if not original one. It brings to mind many famous works of literature and the earlier movies about the little girls escaping their dreadful realities of war or death of the loved ones or all sorts of abuse in the world of their imagination such as "Forbidden Games", "Spirits of the Beehive" (which "Pan's Labyrinth" tried to be but never was), the later also takes place in Spain during the Civil war, as well as "Wizard of Oz", "Alice in Wonderland", "Legends and Myths of Ancient Greece".
One movie that "Pan's Labyrinth" has been often compared to is Terry Gilliam's "Tideland", his fairy tale for adults, his "Alice in Wonderland meets Psycho" which also tells the story of an 11-years-old girl and her world of imagination. "Tideland" was released last year and was either ignored or hated by majority of critics and left many viewers puzzled and confused. I am not completely in love with "Tideland" but I found it much more interesting that "Pan's Labyrinth" in all aspects. The main difference between the two - Gillian does not present reality in his film in the simplistic way and does not divide his characters to devilish monsters or shining knights the way Del Toro does in "Pan Labyrinth".
I am not sure what the target audience for Del Toro's film is? Its story (the writer/director was nominated for the best screenplay and I found his writing the weakest and most ridiculous part of the movie) is so naive and primitive that you would think the movie was made for children but its shocking violence and horrifying tortures are not easy to watch even for adults. Another problem is with the characters. I know I should sympathize with Ofelia, and who would not feel empathy for an 11-year-old girl who had to live through the death of her mother and to confront her monstrous step-father but if frankly, her character is not very interesting. As for visual effects and cinematography, the film looks good but not especially spectacular or breathtakingly beautiful. Of five Oscar nominated films for best cinematography from last year, at least three seemed to be more interesting. Gilliam's "Tideland" that was completely ignored by the Academy, is always technically superb, visually arresting and much more impressive than "Pan's Labyrinth".
I should admit that at least one scene in "Labyrinth" was absolutely brilliant - dark and scary it came directly from Francisco Goya's terrifying painting, "Saturn Devouring His Children" and it was extremely imaginative. I would not go as far as calling "Pan's Labyrinth" a bad movie and give it one star. It is not bad; it is just not as great as I thought it would be. As for all the awards, "The Devil's Backbone" is much more deserving than "Pan's Labyrinth" and that's the film I would give a standing ovation to.
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