panslabyrinth20068988_fThis post originally appeared on my Bride’s Film page over on my other blog. I’m re-posting here with some added commentary (where appropriate) so that my film reviews are all in the same place.

Date watched: 26 July 2008 (umpteenth viewing; really, I’ve seen this film so many times I’ve lost count)

What IMDb says:

In the falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.

What I said:

I’ve had this film for ages but wanted to save it for when I could really concentrate on it, and a wet Bank Holiday seemed absolutely right. I really love Guillermo del Toro; I was an early adopter of Cronos and have, I think, watched everything he has directed since then, including Mimic which I may very well be one of the few people to enjoy. 

So of course I was really looking forward to seeing Pan’s Labyrinth, especially as both Jonathan Ross and Mark Kermode had raved about it in their reviews. I can’t say whether it should have won the Oscar for foreign language film because I haven’t yet seen The Lives of Others, but I’m very glad to say that it didn’t disappoint.

The film is set in 1944 in Fascist Spain, where Ofelia and her mother, who is heavily pregnant, go to join her brutal stepfather at his military outpost. She finds a labyrinth behind the camp and when she reaches the centre she meets the Faun, who claims that she is a princess out of place and in order to get to return she has to carry out three tasks.

Things I liked about this movie = the art design and special effects are truly spectacular and otherwordly; Ofelia herself is excellent; the character of Mercedes; the growing sense of doom; the bravery of the doctor; the inevitability of the ending

Things I didn’t like = I thought this was perfect, but some people might find the violence too much; I squirmed on a couple of occasions and almost had to make use of the Safety Cushion; the insects crawling over Ofelia during one of her tasks were a bit yucky too

If you like dark fantasy you will love this, and it does illuminate some of the things which happened in Spain after the Civil War was over; a good companion to The Devil’s Backbone.

I am so looking forward to Hellboy 2!

Afterword:

There isn’t much more to say about Pan’s Labyrinth, but Hellboy 2 was definitely worth waiting for 😀

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