Pan's Labyrinth

Courtesy of the Criterion Collection website

Directed by: Guillermo Del Toro

Release Date: 2006

Saturday night, movie night - horror movie night! I saw Pan's Labyrinth in the new year of 2007 because this opened New Year's Eve weekend of 2006. Having seen Cronos and El Espinazo del Diablo (The Devil's Backbone) previously, I was looking forward to where Del Toro would go this time.
What I experienced was magic. Ofelia's fairy tale about a princess arriving back to her kingdom. She had to fulfill these tasks with harrowing obstacles but succeeded each time. The last task was a doozy but fared her well in the end.

Taking place five years after the Spanish Civil War, we are introduced to Ofelia and her sick pregnant mother. Her father, a tailor, had passed away a few years ago and her mother married an evil captain. The night of her arrival, a "fairy" leads her to an abandoned labyrinth underworld. She meets, Pan, a creepy faun, who recognizes her as the princess of this underworld. He provides her with these three tasks to return her to her kingdom. What ensues is the illustration of the captain's corrupt nature and everything Ofelia encounters to complete these duties.

Del Toro can make something tragic, beautiful. Not many filmmakers can easily achieve this effect. The ending is the type that makes you cry with joy for Ofelia's outcome. This movie gets better with each viewing. I really need to watch more Spanish films. Especially those with gothic/horror themes.

Upon re-watching all of his Spanish language films, I see a common thread and his style inspires me in my own storytelling. Del Toro takes what can be a common film and twists the story into something deeper and more meaningful. He's a master storyteller and I have enjoyed everything he's done. I look forward to more of his films (even the fun, non-horror ones like Pacific Rim).

The trailer below.

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