Going back to the year 2006, where acclaimed Director Guillermo del Toro released a dark fantasy film that perhaps has been one of his most popular works, we are here to visit it to see if the quality of storytelling and filmmaking still able to match the current films. The film is in Spanish, and it features the then young actress Ivana Baquero as the lead. Let’s take a look at how the review goes!
The basic premise is set in post Civil war Spain, where Ofelia and her mum meets her stepfather deep into the woods near the battlefield. Unknown to herself, Ofelia is actually a reincarnation of the daughter of the King of the Underworld. She lost her memories and turn to mortal as sunlight touched her a long time ago. One day, while travelling around the area, Ofelia sees a stick insect which transforms into a fairy that brings her to a labyrinth, where she meets Pan, the faun that gives her three tasks to accomplish for her to return to the Underworld. However, with the battle still ongoing, will Ofelia ever be able to complete the tasks before it’s too late?
This is a fcking dark film that has a healthy dose of both fantasy and realism. With the setting set during the Civil War itself, Pan’s Labyrinth sets itself apart from other films of the fantasy genre. The whole narrative follows Ofelia as she tries to complete each task while also ensuring that her mother is safe…and that her stepfather may become a threat to them at any time. The production value and set designs are of very high quality and many of the creatures are imposing with pretty original concepts. Many of them, especially the Pale Man, gives such an impact that they remain in your memories, haunting you as you recall the scenes. It’s the Director’s vision of the film that enables such film to be etched in your mind forever as you recall the classics.
Even though the protagonist is a young girl, the film does not depict this as a kid’s film at all. In fact, you will see blood, gunshots, murders, and killings right near the start of the film till the end. The soundtracks are haunting and filled with sadness, where the war causes loss of life and many innocents have to be sacrificed. This film does a subtle take on depicting how humans can be as scary or even worse than the monsters. Ofelia’s stepfather is able to kill anyone mercilessly, just like how the Pale Man hunts down his victims. However, the antagonist is not all one-dimensional, as he strives to save his own son, not for love but for pride. It questions us how we are our own worst enemy and that selfless sacrifice is the ultimate form of courage and kindness.