Pan’s Labyrinth

Izzy says:

Pan’s Labyrinth is worth your time. That I can say right off the bat. I remember hearing someone compare Pan’s to Alice in Wonderland For Grown-Ups because it mixes fantasy and hard-core reality into one. That’s pretty much true.
The film is split into two parts – the part where little girl Ofelia wanders off into the “labyrinth” in her step-father’s property and meets a fawn and fairies and has to do some pretty crazy shit in order to prove she’s a princess (it’s better than it sounds I swear), and the part that involves the Spanish civil war and Ofelia’s fascist stepfather that kills and tortures many of the rebels, etc.
I’m not going to go into the plot of the film because ANY website can give you that. I’m going to talk about why this movie is so ridiculously hard to rate.
First of all, I haven’t seen many foreign films. I’ve seen a few, but not many. I really liked Amelie, Triplets of Bellville, whathaveyou. But this movie FELT like a foreign film. There were some elements to it that just made it very…not American. And that was kind of a breath of fresh air, and kind of really frightening at the same time. There were parts ofpan3.jpg this film that, even though it is technically a drama, felt like a horror film because of how graphic it was.
<SPOILER ALERT!>
For example, the film wastes NO TIME in showing you just what a fucking bastard Ofelia’s stepfather, the Captain, is. Within the first fifteen minutes, he kills a guy with a glass bottle (not even shards of a glass bottle, but the bottle itself!) by repeatedly smashing his face in with it. Why? Because he “might” be a rebel. Turns out he wasn’t. Not like the Captain cared. I KNOW the point of that is to show you how heartless he is, but just thinking of that scene sends shivers down my spine because it was so disturbing.
Other disturbing scenes include:

-The Captain torturing people for information…grotesquely.
-Mercedes (the most-empowered female character I have seen in movies in a LONG time) cutting the Captain’s cheek from his lips straight across (this makes him look like his mouth is just REALLY wide) and then the Captain sewing it up with a huge needle BY HIMSELF.
-One of the creatures puts eyeballs in the palms of his hands and looks very, very fucked up. And he eats children. And fairies.
</SPOILER ALERT!>

I tend to get easily impressed by scary scenes in a movie. This is why I can’t watch something really scary right before I go to bed, or else I end up dreaming about it and waking up in the middle of the night REALLY freaked out. After seeing Pan’s for the first time, I had about 3 different dreams about the faun (because he just looked like the spawn of the devil…what with his green horns and creepy white eyes) and although it was COMPLETELY unrealistic I was still unable to fall asleep…this is probably just me, though, but if that sounds like something you might do, I’d consider seeing this film at like 2-3pm with a few friends and then going out for ice-cream or something pleasant and happy.

Aside from the scary/disturbing parts of the film, I’d say it was pretty darned amazing. The acting was fucking brilliant. The bad guys were REALLY bad and you wanted to see them all destroyed. The good guys were good, but not OVERWHELMINGLY Mary Poppins good. You know how sometimes you can’t side with the good guys because they’repan1.jpg just too “goody goody”? This was not the case in Pan’s. They had their flaws, but you sided with them anyways, and that’s how they should be. And then there’s the characters that are a big question mark as to good or bad, like, the faun. Sure the thing looks like it’s right out of hell, but Ofelia tends to trust it (yet she’s a little girl so what does she know) and it seems to get her mind off of the crap that’s going on at home with Spanish Hitler (is it bad that when I wrote Spanish Hitler, the first image to come to mind is Hitler wearing a sombrero with a taco in one hand and a bottle of tequila in the other? I know that’s more like Mexican Hitler but it’s still kinda funny), but Mercedes tells us not to trust fauns and she seems pretty smart, so…who knows?

happen? Is she just using this faux fantasy world as a way to escape her life or did sheAnd then there’s the whole battle of what’s real and what isn’t. Is Ofelia just making the whole thing up? Is she pretending that she met someone in the labyrinth or did it really stumble across something straight out of one of her fairytale books?

One thing I don’t like about the film: The title. Why “Pan’s Labyrinth”? Pan is a Greek godpan2.jpg of music and nature and all that and is said to have the legs and horns of a goat, but the rest of him is human. Pan does not appear anywhere in this film. And yeah, I wouldn’t call the faun in Pan’s labyrinth “Pan”, because that’s just not who he is. I think the title is somewhat lost in translation because in Spanish, the movie is called “El Laberinto del fauno”. Now, I don’t speak Spanish, but I’m guessing “Pan” is the same in Spanish and English and I don’t see the word Pan in that title anywhere…so by my deductive reasoning, I’m going to assume the title means “The Labyrinth of the Faun” or something similar. Why couldn’t they call it that in English? Because no one knows what a faun is? If you don’t know what a faun is, you’re not going to know who Pan is, either. So yeah, poor decision making there.

To sum it up…gory/graphic, not for the weak hearted, excellent acting, brilliant costumes and scenery, very different, very neat. But like a good piece of cheesecake, this movie is very heavy and filling. Once you’ve seen it once or twice, you’re not eager to see it again for a long time.

Grade: 87

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