Monday, February 5, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

El Laberinto del Fauno (2007)

Written and Directed by
: Guillermo del Toro

Starring: Ivana Banquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Ariadna Gil, Álex Angulo, Doug Jones, Roger Casamajor

It has long been a Superbowl tradition for my mother and I to rescue each other from my father's Superbowl party. Usually we go see a movie. Last year we went to see Underworld: Evolution. This year we went to see a double feature, starting with Pan's Labyrinth. My apologies for not having written this review earlier. Between recovery, socialization and going to a free show of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I've been rather busy. Anyway, I'm doing it now.

Labyrinth is the story of a young girl who lives with her pregnant mother and evil stepfather in Spain in 1944. Then she meets this Faun in the labyrinth out back who sends her off on a series of tasks to prove that she is actually the reincarnation of the lost princess from his world.

Of course, that description sort of makes it sound like a fantasy. It's really more about the Spanish Civil War than anything. The girl's evil stepfather is kind of obsessed with destroying the guys camped out in the hills, and does all manner of nasty things to them. There are some pretty unpleasant torture scenes. Nothing particularly graphic, but it's hinted at.

So the whole thing almost feels like two movies. The harsh, cruel war movie and the dark, surrealist fantasy into which the heroine escapes. The stuff in the fantasy world is pretty scary and revolting. Particularly that dude with the eyes on his hands. Holy shit, that was messed up. But it wasn't as bad as the 'real world'. At least the girl had a place and a purpose in the fantasy world.

Anyway, there are a lot of things that I could say about the story. It was an interesting blend of several different myths. But what really got my attention was the nifty art direction.

Everything was so dark and moody! It was great. It is kind of difficult to look at the movie and read the subtitles at the same time, but I managed. I can understand enough Spanish to sort of get by anyway.

The Labyrinth was right spooky (if strangely reminiscent of the Labyrinth in Harry Potter. From what I read, Guillermo was asked to do Prisoner of Alcatraz or whatever that movie's called, but he turned it down and it went to his buddy Alfonso Cuaron, who produced this movie. Hey, it's a circle! w00t!), and Pan looked really cool. He looked like he grew out of the ground a long, long time ago or something. And dammit, he creaked! It was great. The hand-eye guy (played by the same dude what played the Faun) was also pretty cool looking. That was a damn good make-up job.

I think it deserves all of the Oscars it was nominated for, except maybe best screenplay. I dunno. There didn't seem to be a lot of... well... dialogue in the whole thing. I don't know, maybe some of the wit got lost in translation. Who knows. They kept all the cussin'. Maybe give Ivana Banquero a Best Actress nomination to make up for it. She was good.


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