Friday, December 11, 2015

Pan's Labyrinth

As a child the filmmaker Guillermo del Toro liked to draw. And, just as many children, he liked to draw monsters. His pious Catholic grand-mother, who often watched over him, was afraid that little Guillermo was drawing demons, at one point sprinkling holy water on them to drive away the evil spirits. As Del Toro tells it, "she tried to exorcise me for the shit I was drawing. I started laughing and she got so scared that she threw more at me."

We can all be thankful that the exorcism didn't work; the monsters stayed monstrous, and eventually made their way into his films: The Devil's Backbone, Cronos, and two Hellboy features. In his early student films, Del Toro did his own makeup and prosthetics, and those who've worked with him have been appreciative of his understanding. He doesn't, as do many other directors, go straight to CGI, but prefers to do whatever he can with makeup and prosthetics, then "tune them up" with just enough CGI to make them seamless. It's an advantage to the actors, too, who get to add their bodily gestures, and to those who act with them, who don't have to pretend to see things in a greenscreen room.

But the real essence of Del Toro's genius is that he believes in fairy tales, and respects them. He understands their arcance and ancient logic, and knows there should be three fairies, three doors, and three special tasks. And most of all, he believes in his actors, eliciting astounding performances from them, especially Ivana Baquero, who plays Ofelia. He knows that a film such as this must create a world, and that the world -- or worlds -- must be internally consistent. And yet, with that foundation, he lest his fancies fly, and they travel much further, and deeper, than any other fantastical films of our era.


  1. Pan's Labyrinth was a very interesting dark sci-fi fairy tale. Ofelia, who is the the main character, loves fairy tales and uses her love for it as a way to cope with the tough times she going through. As she is told by Pan that she is the underground king's lost daughter, she creates her own fairy tale on how she overcomes every obstacle that comes her way in order to meet her father and become the princess that she is meant to be. As her mother passes away when giving birth to Ofelia's brother, Ofelia does not lose her faith in her fairy tale and is given a second chance. As she is given a second chance, she must sacrifice the only family she has left- her brother but decides not and when her Stepfather comes to take her brother, she is shot. But she finally meets her father, mother, and her kingdom in which she so desired from the start and dies with a smile on her face. This film is probably my favorite one from the rest of the films we have watched because its a fictional story that actually takes place in a real time setting and it does a good job in making mystical creatures and setting look realistic. (Kathy Mateos)

  2. Pan's Labyrinth was interesting and although the movie was gruesome and a little violent it was very well made. This movie was done well in special affects as well as camera shots and directing was great. The film follows two stories, one of Ofeila and her journey to the underground world and one involving the war in Spain. These two stories are sewn finely together and they play off of each other very well. Both plots come together to strengthen the message that good wins over evil. Mercedes wins over the Captain and proves that good conquers evil and then Ofeila does not give up her little brother to the faun. She proves herself worthy and she dies to save her brother and to save her morals thus proving that good wins because she is rewarded for her good deeds. Overall I loved how the two plots were woven together seamlessly and added to the over arching theme of the film.

  3. I was actually not much of a fan of Pan’s Labyrinth. I did not like this film because of it being in spanish, it took away from what was going on to read the subtitles. The film consisted of two stories one being Ofelia’s and her underground fairytale life, and the war in Spain as the second one. Both of these two demonstrate how good always conquers evil in the end. Ofelia never gave up faith in magic and mystical creatures. The end of the film shows the captain dying and Ofelia giving up her magical life due to saving her brother to be mortal and dying. When she dies she enters a new world where she meets her real mother and father and takes her place beside them. This was one film that did not catch my interest this semester, it was hard to pay attention and was not awaiting what would happen next. (Kelsey Wood)

  4. Pan's Labyrinth was better than I was expecting. I do not generally like Spanish movies so I was not very excited for it. I thought it was really interesting that there were multiple stories within the movie. One story is Ofelia's and her fairy tale world. Another story is Ofelia's mother's and her new husband, who is a commander. Also, the commander's servant, Mercedes, tells another story. I liked the part when Ofelia drew that door with the chalk and saw the pale man. I think she should have listened to the fairy's and not eat anything. I thought his character was interesting. if I had watched this as a child I would be terrified for life.


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