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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 18.09%
Average: 3.19%
Pretty Bad: 5.32%
Total Crap: 1.06%

5 reviews, 64 user ratings

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Pan's Labyrinth
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by U.J. Lessing

"Hope in a hopeless world: a precious commodity indeed..."
5 stars

“El Laberinto del Fauno” provides a deeply unsettling and satisfying experience. Director and writer Guillermo del Toro contrasts tasks from unreal childhood fairytales with the real and immediate trial of surviving evil to create an intoxicating atmosphere as potent as a vivid dream.

The film is set in a period immediately following the Spanish Civil War. Militant fascists have all but exterminated pockets of resistance. We meet Ophelia (Ivana Baquero), a young girl traveling with her pregnant mother (Ariadna Gil) into the heart of an ancient forest to join with her new stepfather, Captain Vidal (Sergi López) who resides with his men in an abandoned mill.

The mill is a hastily adapted structure in the center of an old world. Ancient sculptures speckle the aged forest, and a centuries-old garden and labyrinth reside in the grounds adjacent to the mill.

Captain Vidal and his men have been assigned to destroy a small band of resistance fighters that hide in the forest. His objectives are clearly defined, and he is compelled to do anything to meet them. Vidal is a war criminal. He kills innocents, tortures, and terrorizes. Paranoia and pride have deprived him of any humanity.

Vidal’s personal objectives include fathering a son to continue his name. The Captain is ruthless in his quest for this “achievement” as well. He imperils the health of his infirm wife by demanding that she join him for the birth. Both military and private tasks are fueled by pride: his desire to be remembered as great.

Ophelia is only vaguely aware of the desires of the evil around her, but she immediately senses that she is in the presence of immorality. She escapes by entering the dark world of the fairy tale books she loves so dearly. She meets an ancient Faun deep in the center of a labyrinth who has been waiting for her. The faun believes that she is a lost princess and must prove her loyalty by performing three tasks.

This mythological world is a culmination of all the books that Ophelia has read and is a wonderful combination of Germanic, Russian, Eastern, and Spanish fairy tales. Flashes of Lewis Carroll and JRR Tolkien may jump to mind, but the source material is the stories that inspired them.

In the British newspaper, Guardian Unlimited, Guillermo del Toro credited British illustrator Arthur Rackham and the works of Goya (particularly his painting of Saturn devouring his son.) The power of these artists lies in their ability to capture the horror and beauty of the nightmares that linger between the conscious and unconscious hours. Guillermo del Toro has joined their ranks with this film.

As Ophelia delves deeper into the fantastic and frightening fairy tales, the modern world becomes increasingly hopeless. The satyr exposes Ophelia to many frightening sights and dangerous situations, but the prize at the end of each undertaking is hope, and hope in a hopeless world is a precious commodity indeed.

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originally posted: 02/22/07 14:03:35
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2006 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/22/17 morris campbell good horror fantasy check it out 4 stars
1/30/16 Alexis H Cold reality and dangerous fantasy collide in the fight for freedom 4 stars
11/13/13 Vanessa Campos I loved this movie for the fantasy and reality it portrayed. 5 stars
8/12/11 jiropan best dark fantasy film of all time..... 5 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles OUTSTANDING 5 stars
9/27/10 KingNeutron Really disturbing in parts, but well made -- Note, Subtitled 4 stars
9/04/10 Simon Strange yet so fresh and intriguing the 1st time I saw it, 2nd viewing confirms its beauty 5 stars
6/06/10 User Name Del Toro magnificantly illuminates the grimness of reality and Olivia's fantasy. 5 stars
9/17/09 bored mom A fucking awesome psychological fantasy allegory set in fascist-era Spain 5 stars
6/16/09 MP Bartley A seriously impressive achievement. 5 stars
2/17/09 dolph G Spanish is the best language for the flim and one of the greats!! 5 stars
2/14/09 Raul Valdez Jr I dont give a sh!t what you all think but this movie needs to be in english 5 stars
2/29/08 Tammy Kennedy When i first got this movie i thought it was for kids, wow I was wrong. I liked it though 4 stars
2/10/08 R.W.Welch Creative stuff, tho a shade overdone at times. 4 stars
11/17/07 Brian Mckay "Bridge to Genocide-ia" is more like it - very dark and gritty film full of metaphors 4 stars
9/18/07 Axel A beautiful fantastical horrific sad movie.. BEAUTIFUL!! 5 stars
9/16/07 David Cohen Wouldn't call it a masterpiece, but I enjoyed it 4 stars
9/03/07 Kendra A good movie just a lil gory 4 stars
7/31/07 Shana Poorly written, especially the fantasy part which isn't really tied in well. Almost cheesy 2 stars
7/28/07 steven kelly Powerful, haunting, beautifully filmed; a masterpiece. 5 stars
7/11/07 Hello Stranger why would you rate a film based on how gory it is? idiots. this is a great take on fantasy 5 stars
7/07/07 AnnieG Can't understand what people love about this film ... it's lame fantasy and too violent 3 stars
7/03/07 William Goss A grand historical fable worth getting lost in. Just spectacular all-around. 5 stars
6/16/07 Mark Hambly Agree with all the good comments - Fantastic and mesmerising dark fantasy fable - Watch it! 5 stars
6/08/07 kalika Too gory, story line was under developed 2 stars
5/25/07 tony del Toro fulfills on the promise of Devil's Backbone; superior to Cronos 5 stars
5/25/07 Jiz Strong characters, great atmosphere, but a little too drawn-out. 4 stars
5/24/07 Tracey Chambers great movie. dark and very, creepy. 5 stars
5/22/07 Dark Enchantress one of the best films ever! 5 stars
5/22/07 action movie fan good special effects but story was much too lame 3 stars
5/17/07 Quigley Del Toro finally came through for me. Lives up to the title "masterpiece" in every way. 5 stars
4/14/07 Rayven Simply the best movie I have seen in a long long while-a masterpiece!! 5 stars
4/06/07 The Velcro Warlock One friggin' wierd film. Stays with you, but not necessarily in a good way. 2 stars
4/01/07 dtx120 Artsy, brutal, conflicting, and not nearly what I expected. One of the best of 06. 5 stars
3/14/07 Kerri Awesome film! 5 stars
3/13/07 guisada wow 5 stars
3/01/07 Anti-Xen Not bad at all, but lacking a certain something... 3 stars
3/01/07 malcolm creepy, captivating, with gorgeous set pieces 5 stars
2/28/07 Keystra Williams Got screwed out of the big prize on sunday! Boo! 5 stars
2/28/07 Jennifer Spry A beautiful dream 5 stars
2/20/07 Beau one of the best top ten movies i have ever seen in this decade, great acting 5 stars
2/18/07 dmitry Fantastic, makes "Children of Men" seem like a cartoon in comparison 5 stars
2/11/07 Jim Good, but not as good as Devil's Backbone; still better than 90% of Hollywood junk 4 stars
2/11/07 jcjs wonderful, just a masterpiece..has to be his best 5 stars
2/09/07 The chode Best movie of 2006, hands down. 5 stars
2/08/07 Dark Enchantress It was a great movie, but i thought there should of been more fantasy in it! 5 stars
2/07/07 toni amazing but with an underlining sadness 5 stars
2/03/07 The Talking Elbow Maybe not for everybody, it's sad but remarkable. 5 stars
1/30/07 Kate A STUNNING MASTERPIECE 5 stars
1/30/07 del Cranky and lee should both be shot in the genitals. 5 stars
1/29/07 TyrantisTerror Art in every positive sense of the word. 5 stars
1/29/07 Lisa Craven Loved it, very entertaining, kept me interested. 4 stars
1/29/07 Cranky Great when on crack, stupid illegal language which screwed it up! 1 stars
1/27/07 lee boring and belligerantly violet with no meaning behind its entirety 2 stars
1/26/07 Arlette Alice in Wonderland on crack. Great juxtaposition of two worlds. Loved the Dorothy "red sho 5 stars
1/26/07 Marty amazing movie. still can't believe that bitch ate that grape. 5 stars
1/23/07 Bitchflaps The feminist angle and the characters are underdeveloped, the allegory is overstated. 2 stars
1/21/07 Rob Loved it. Best film I've seen this year so far. 5 stars
1/21/07 Max I'm proud this Mexican film is touching hearts all over the world 5 stars
1/20/07 Ole Man Bourbon Very well done, entertaining throughout. 5 stars
1/14/07 hanabatake amazing, moving, horrifying. I can't get the images out of my mind. 5 stars
1/13/07 Deadly Assassin One of the best fantasy films ever...much better than that D& D crap !!!! 5 stars
1/10/07 kris Highly original, sad and brutal. An attack on fascism and Catholic Church. 5 stars
12/30/06 lee Best movie of the year!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
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  29-Dec-2006 (R)
  DVD: 15-May-2007



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