For this week’s installment of Friday Movie Flashback, we bring you Guillermo del Toro’s dark fantasy opus, “Pan’s Labyrinth.”
“Pan’s Labyrinth,” or “El Laberinto del Fauno,” is an award-winning Spanish language film that premiered at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. It’s a period film set in post-Civil War Spain and revolves around a young girl named Ofelia, and combines the elements of history, mythology, and fantasy.
The film is framed by a fairy tale about Princess Moanna of the Underworld, whose curiosity for the human world causes her downfall. We then meet Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), who moves with her pregnant mother into the house of her imposing new stepfather Captain Vidal. Shortly after, Ofelia is led by an enchanted giant stick insect into an old labyrinth in the woods behind their property. There, she meets a faun who insists that she is the reincarnation of the princess. To be able to return to her rightful place, the faun tells Ofelia that she must accomplish three seemingly impossible tasks before the full moon.
And so for the rest of the movie we see Ofelia, possibly feeling unwanted at her new home, trying to finish the tasks as best as she could under the noses of the people in the household. Serving as the film’s subplot is Capt. Vidal’s merciless weeding out of rebels, as well as their sympathizers, against the dictator Francisco Franco.
I remember being a bit surprised after seeing “Pan’s Labyrinth” some months back. I know it’s a pretty old film, but the thing is, I don’t intentionally dig up spoilers and other information prior to watching any film. And so armed with only these and the things I already know, I initially ignorantly dismissed the movie as something that wouldn’t be as dark as it had been pegged because of fairy tale element and the fact that a child is its central figure.
Clearly, I was wrong! How could I ever have expected something less from a creative mind like Guillermo del Toro’s, right? However, the horror and fantasy fan in me was happy to find out that “Pan’s Labyrinth” neither dumbed down the story nor mellowed down the fright just to adapt to a wider viewership. I think that the imagined and the real parts of the movie were solid enough to stand on their own, but weaving them together gave us this unique and elaborate fantasy film. Thank god the director didn’t completely lose the notebooks where he kept the ideas for “Pan’s Labyrinth”!
Anyway, I think that “Pan’s Labyrinth” is the kind of film that you’d rather watch than only read or hear about so I wouldn’t be spilling any more details! The haunting beauty of this film is something that you definitely have to see for yourselves.
Here’s the trailer to get you started!
Like this article? Check out our articles from the Friday Movie Flashback series in the Lomography magazine!