Written & Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil and Sergi López
In 1944 fascist Spain, a girl, fascinated with fairy-tales, is sent along with her pregnant mother to live with her new stepfather, a ruthless captain of the Spanish army. During the night, she meets a fairy who takes her to an old faun in the center of the labyrinth. He tells her she’s a princess, but must prove her royalty by surviving three gruesome tasks. If she fails, she will never prove herself to be the true princess and will never see her real father, the king, again.
This is an instant entry into the Fister’s Hall of Fame. Guillermo states at the beginning of the Blu Ray, that this film nearly killed him. He got sick, lost weight, and spent many sleepless nights obsessed with this labor of love. When you watch this film with the writers side-note fresh in your mind, you quickly realize why this is such an amazing film. Every scene, every line of dialogue, every color within each frame is absolutely genius. Guillermo’s vision was realized perfectly in this beautiful dark fantasy tale.
The backdrop of the war would make for an interesting film on its own, but throw in our young and pure protagonist, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), and you have the anchor point for amazing subtext. The dark fantasy combined with the war is truly symbiotic. Guillermo weaves the two together with perfect pacing, each supporting the other for an intense and clever climax.
Pale Man is terrifying.
The young Ivana Baquero brings such life and curious zeal to the character of Ofelia. Her childlike mind allows the dual story lines to merge so well. The characters and creatures she meets on her quest are almost too good to be true. The effects team set designers deserve as much applause as the actors. No great protagonist can exist without and equally offense antagonist, and this doesn’t disappoint.You’ll learn to hate the man known as the Captain.
Pans Labyrinth is a perfect film. Amazing story, wonderful actors, breathtaking cinematography, and a satisfying third act make it impossible to ignore. The Blu Ray is the only way to go with this one. Easily the best fantasy film of the last decade and not likely to be dethroned any time soon.