Movie Series: Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writers: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú
Synopsis: In the fascist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.
Guillermo del Toro is at his best in Pan’s Labyrinth giving us a world of realism mixed with a world of fantasy in a gorgeous and stunning world that brings to life our main characters. His visuals are amazing and mixed really well within a realistic setting. The parallels he uses here with his 2001 film, The Devil’s Backbone, are pretty prominent and forthcoming which sets the tone right away. His camera work is amazing as always and it’s very del Toro with how he uses objects to obscure his pans and showcasing the fantasy elements. He gets amazing performances out of his actors once again and the characters are very intriguing. He weaves in and out of what feels like two stories combined magnificently and becomes something magical.
Del Toro’s story here is also amazing but does have one minor flaw. The story of our little girl protagonist, Ofelia, is pretty amazing and one similair to The Devil’s Backbone, as someone who’s looking for something more and living in her fantasy world gives her so much more. The setting is 1944, five years after the events of The Devil’s Backbone, in post Spain Civil War at an army camp who is run by Ofelia’s new stepfather. Ofelia finds a labyrinth where she meets a Faun creature who is tasked in bringing back the princess of the underworld, a little girl to escaped into the human world and now the Faun believes it is Ofelia. However, before she can be brought back into the underworld, she must prove herself as the princess. The main problem with the story here is the fact that it takes place in the realistic setting of this post-war camp where there are still “war” things going on. Rebels are attacking the camp leaving del Toro to explore what’s going on in the reality around Ofelia and her pregnant mother. While both stories are great, they almost feel like two different stories that are happening at the same time and never emerge. It’s not until the final scene of the movie where everything is brought together and if you look beneath the surface, it makes sense and it’s appropriate given who our protagonist is. The stories are both amazing though leaving you with plenty of emotion to be spent as well as the fun you’ll have along the way.
Ivana Baquero who plays Ofelia is incredible and has to play many emotions and roles in the film. Her mother is pregnant and relying on her at the camp, yet she is infatuated with the fantasy elements going on around her. Baquero does an incredible job and stands out in this movie. Sergi López also stands out as the army General at this camp and his performance makes you hate him for the person he is and what he does throughout the film. The fact that you are rooting for him to die at the end means his performance is amazing, and it is. You have to love Doug Jones as the Faun who has some amazing dialogue moments and brings to life this fantasy creature that has some very human characteristics. He’s pushy at times and goes off of Ofelia in one scene for not doing what she was supposed to which makes him more relatable even though he’s a fantasy element. The other performances are also great and you fall right into the story and the environment that you’re in.
Javier Navarrete once again gets to score for del Toro and it’s the best one he’s done yet. His main themes are amazing and fun to listen to while giving you the right, soothing score needed for the smaller moments of the film. The transition music is done well and it’s the right score for this environment.