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Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro returns to the phantasmagorical cinema that defined such early fare as Cronos and The Devil's Backbone with this ...Show synopsisMexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro returns to the phantasmagorical cinema that defined such early fare as Cronos and The Devil's Backbone with this haunting fantasy-drama set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and detailing the strange journeys of an imaginative young girl who may be the mythical princess of an underground kingdom. Her mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil), recently remarried to sadistic army captain Vidal (Sergi López) and soon to bear the cruel military man's child, shy young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) is forced to entertain herself as her recently-formed family settles into their new home nestled deep in the Spanish countryside. As Ofelia's bed-ridden mother lies immobilized in anticipation of her forthcoming child and her high-ranking stepfather remains determined to fulfill the orders of General Francisco Franco to crush a nearby guerilla uprising, the young girl soon ventures into an elaborate stone labyrinth presided over by the mythical faun Pan (Doug Jones). Convinced by Pan that she is the lost princess of legend and that in order to return to her underground home she must complete a trio of life-threatening tasks, Ofelia sets out to reclaim her kingdom and return to her grieving father as Vidal's housekeeper Mercedes (Maribel Verdú) and doctor (Alex Angulo) plot secretly on the surface to keep the revolution alive. ~ Jason Buchanan, RoviHide synopsis
Interesting if you are familiar with the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). But the movie is a very strange amalgam of the brutality of war and the innocence of childhood. Some graphic violence is shown. In Spanish, with English subtitles. I'm surprised that the IMDB rating was so high (8.3).
If you like films that act out the triumph of imagination/fantasy, this
will satisfy. The contrast of the savageness (thought by some to be typically Spanish) with the gentleness of a young girl's inner life is effective if mildly off-putting. No way this could have been made by either an American or a Brit. If you are tired of fantasy as represented by either Harry Potter or the Matrix, go for this.
TITLE: Pan's Labyrinth
GENRE: Historical/Fantasy Spanish with subtitles
CAST: Some proficient spanish actors we'll probably never see in english speaking films and I can't make out their names on the case.
PLOT: The effects of war (Spanish Civil) on a young girl's mind. This movie is promoted as a fantasy but it is most emphatically an expression of the horrors and brutallity of Generalissimo Francisco Franco's Espana. I have first hand knowledge of the gardia civil's inhuman rule over it's people. They beat me up, cracked two ribs and severed nerves to my thumb at the wrist. They were very highly trained to inflict unnoticable damage to the body. This happened to me in 1973. Okay, movie, ah, girl and pregger mom are taken off to the hills to be with girl's step father as he brutally tries to squash the remains of the opposition to Franco's victory. In the stark and bare surroundings of the military bivuoac, the girl imagines fairies and fawns and little girl princess dreams. The step father does his nicest imitation of his German cohort Doctor Death Mengele.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT: 9 of 10; This movie is the cinematographic equivalent to Picasso's Guernica. Where Picasso shone light on the horror of aerial bombardment, this film captures the inhumanity to man I described above by fascist control demons. There are some extremely grotesque expressions of torture. Why the movie is (in the USA anyway) promoted as an "adult fantasy" is also grotesque. It is an historically based tale with the fantasy thrown in as a contre-temps to bizarrely increase the impact of the cruelness,
DVD BONUS: Maybe it's there, I didn't go back in to search it out. There should have been a warning:"If you have recently watched David Bowie's Labyrinth, do not watch this one. they're different and we mean different". But it is a 9/10 to show what the men in the patent leather hats were