In 2006, director Guillermo del Toro brought us a fantastic, dark, twisted, spanish dream in the form of Pan’s Labyrinth. A dark, brooding, atmospheric narrative that takes the viewer on a journey unlike most they’ve even had. The movie blends a very realistic view of a slice of life from a certain place and time, and juxtaposes it with this fantastical world full of weird and strange creatures that exist just below the surface, but only for some, and none existent to others. It paints a fantastical tapestry while keeping all of its characters nailed down to reality.
One of the best received “foreign language” films in recent times, including 6 oscar nominations and 3 wins including best cinematography. That’s another area in which this movie truly excels. Its aesthetic resembles that of an oil painting almost with the way the light reflects and bounces off things and the way in which things move and are animated. Using a combination of CGI, Make-up and puppetry, the movie better brings you into its more fantastic elements so much more convincingly that a solely computer generated world could do. Its brings its characters to life with such a unique and interesting way that you can’t help but stare in fascination as they move and interact with other characters on screen.
The narrative itself is a very cerebral, and reflective sort of poem of a story. As the movie goes on, we get pulled into the ebbs and flows, the rhymes and the rhythm that make the movie so hypnotic. There is also something to be said about watching a movie in a language foreign to yours. Reading subtitles almost forces you to pay laser like focus to the film and the things happening in it. Pan’s Labyrinth is a full experience of a movie, and totally worth a watch if you’ve never seen it, or a re-watch for those who haven’t given it a watch in a long time.