Pan’s Labyrinth (Spanish: El laberinto del fauno, “The Faun’s Labyrinth”) may not be the best movie I have ever seen nor one of my favorites. But certainly, this is one of the most imaginative, graphically engaging, original, interesting and unforgettable movies of all time.
Pan’s Labyrinth is a 2006 Mexican Spanish-language fantasy and war film, written and directed by Mexican film-maker Guillermo del Toro who also created the movies Mimic and Hellboy. It was produced and distributed by the Mexican film company Esperanto Films. It was only in 2007 that the movie was widely released in United States, Canada and to the rest of the world.
The movie takes place in Spain in May – June 1944, five years after the Spanish Civil. The film opens with a fairy tale of a Princess Moanna of the Underground Realm who escaped to the Earth, forgot her past and died. The story then cuts to post-Civil War Spain. Ofelia, a 10-year old child and a lover of fairy tales, arrives with her mother, at the post of her new stepfather in the mountains where several Spanish guerillas were also living. There, Ofelia discovers an ancient and abandoned Labyrinth near the mill where his stepfather is posted. She soon meets the Faun who guards the Labyrinth. Believing she was the reincarnated Princess Moanna, Ofelia encounters more magical creatures and must perform several challenges before she can return to the other world where his true father is waiting. As Ofelia undergoes her adventure, her mother grows more ill with her pregnancy, and the war between the military and rebels intensifies. In the end, Ofelia’s innocent blood is shed, thereby reconciling the soul of Princess Moanna to her family, as well as saving the life of her stepbrother in the real world.
Pan’s Labyrinth is an adult fantasy film. It is very well-written as fairy tale and life during war time are infused from the beginning to end. All throughout the film, the child struggles to follow the fairy tale and keep up with her actual world as her actions in both worlds has significant consequences on each other. There is a mystery in the movie as audience will wonder if the fairy tale has been true or simply all imagination of Ofelia. Whichever, Ofelia manages to be the hero of both worlds in the end.
The movie is artistically created. The magical creatures are very believable and all so new to me. I particularly love the child-eating monster whose eyes are removable but can only be placed on its hands. The cinematography and sound recording are both terrific as well.
No wonder, Pan’s Labyrinth is an all-time hit. It is one of the top-grossing foreign films of all time. It is universally acclaimed as well. It has 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 100% among the “Cream of the Crop” critics. It received 98% rating at Metacritic and became Metacritic’s fourth highest rated movie of all time. It also appeared on many critics’ top ten list of the best films in 2006, first place particularly in TIME Magazine, New York Post, and Chicago Sun-Times among others. Ultimately, the movie gathered numerous awards and nominations. It received the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in English, Ariel Award for Best Picture, and three Academy Awards. It was also nominated as Best Foreign Film for the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe in 2007.