I remember my sister constantly nagging me to watch this film a couple years ago, and came across it again yesterday. With high expectations while watching, I was definitely not disappointed. Pan’s Labyrinth, or El Laberinto del Fauno is maybe one of the best films I’ve seen in terms of juggling the fantastical world with the real. Based in Spain of 1944, young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) moves in with her new father, a sadistic army officer – and finds an entrance to a dark, mystical world. She soon finds out that she is actually the long lost princess of this Underworld, and is set on a journey to return, upon completing three gruesome tasks.
Now, the two plot lines, based in reality and fantasy respectively, definitely could have stood alone as two individual, distinct films themselves. That being said, director Guillermo del Toro did a marvellous job in intertwining the two, as Ofelia ventured in and out of the fantastical Underworld to complete her tasks. One thing that I liked especially was the overall lighting and tone of the screen image. Moments ranged from having an orangey, fiery, hell-like tint to a colder, blue picture with red accents that highlighted things like lips, the flush of skin, and blood. What I specifically liked about this range in colouring is that there wasn’t the typical separation between the living world and the Underworld, in which the living is bright and colourful, and the Underworld is darker, more sinister. Instead, the colouring of images was evenly distributed between the two worlds, where the blue-ish colouring as well as the fiery glow are seen in different moments in both worlds, sort of showing that both the worlds are “real”.
In terms of the actors, Ivana Baquero was great as Ofelia. Her face, while fixed in a determined expression, as hard to read – and as you gazed into her eyes, you would get the feeling that she was wise beyond her years. She had this air of curiosity and drive for exploration, and rarely exhibited fear. Another shout out goes to Sergi López, playing Vidal, or the Captain. I was terrified of him. He portrayed his character with a certain ferocity, or feral-ness, exuding a sense of mistrust and unpredictability, making him all the more horrifying.
Lastly, I’d like to make a comment on the CGI and effects in this film. Those hellish creatures were very impressive, I really liked them. The faun was really cool. Looming over Ofelia, with his rugged structure and empty eyes, juxtaposed with his dark, raspy voice speaking words of advice and concern, it was hard to decide whether to trust him or not, and I think that was the whole point of his character. Another creature that really imprinted into my brain? That THING in Ofelia’s second task. If you have seen this, or maybe even looked at this film’s IMDB page, you know what I am talking about. Nightmares for days.
Ok, really lastly this time, I extremely digged the design of the fairies, especially how they didn’t look like typical fairies but more like bugs (large, monster ones) in the everyday world that could transform into the more typical, winged fairies. Like, if you just take time to actually look at the world, and know what to look for, you can find beautiful, magical things in the world – going along with the closing words of the film:
“And it is said that the Princess returned to her father’s kingdom. That she reigned there with justice and a kind heart for many centuries. That she was loved by her people. And that she left behind small traces of her time on Earth, visible only to those who know where to look.” – Pan
Anyway, as my sister once nagged me to watch this film, I will now nag you. WATCH IT. You will not be disappointed.
just my rating: ★★★★★