Mexican born Guillermo Del Toro has that uncanny ability to transfer the magic in his mind onto the screen, enveloping all the finer details in a way that glues you to the screen. Having learnt the magic of makeup and effects from the man responsible for the effects on The Exorcist, he has embraced this element, incorporating it into his work, most notably his award winning 2006 film, Pan's Labyrinth. A Spanish language film, it is set in northern Spain in 1944, and centres on a young girl, Ofelia, who has to move to an army base in the countryside where her vicious fascist stepfather is a Captain hunting rebels in the midst of the Spanish Civil War.
While this plot thread continues with unerring precision as a strong drama, it runs alongside the release that Ofelia finds when she stumbles upon a secret labyrinth and an underground world no one knows exists. Here, she meets the faun, Pan, who informs her she is really a Princess of the fantasy world, and to return to her throne at her real father's side she must complete three tasks. As Ofelia'a two lives follow their consistent threads, Del Toro adds tension, fantasy and violence into the mix in order to make this a film that you'll struggle to tear yourself away from.
But don't be fooled into thinking this is anything like a fairy tale you may have experienced as a child, and nor should you entertain the thought of letting your kids anywhere near this. There are some quite shocking and scary moments throughout, and it really is a toss up between the fantastic creationary costumes of the labyrinth world and the stark violence of Ofelia's horrible stepfather who will stop at nothing to quell any rebellion that is happening, hunting out those scattered in the woodland around them, torturing anyone and everyone who might know anything that could help. Sergi Lopez plays the Captain with unerring violence and is extremely convincing, putting more emphasis on his men paying attention to detail rather than worrying about whether someone is hurt or not.
This makes everyone fear him, and in a war situation where anything goes, there is no one to reprimand him, and it's effectively as if his word is law. Aside from this, you'd expect there to be a softer element in private, but if anything he is even more ruthless, using Ofelia's mother more to produce a son than for love. And to him, Ofelia is a nuisance he'd rather be without. As the film develops and Ofelia works her way through the three tasks set for her by Pan, she becomes braver with her actions, comforted in the promise that the magic associated with the underground world can bring her, while the Captain becomes more desperate to find the rebels and produce a son. As Ofelia's mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) gets closer to the date of birth, she encounters more problems, and this leads the two worlds to combine, Pan helping Ofelia to help her mother through it.
What this does though is increase the danger, and this is how Del Toro adds to the tension already assumed by the dark fantasy developing before our eyes. Instead of throwing a whole load of CGI at the film, he uses it sparingly and focuses instead on established costume actor Doug Jones and the creatures' outfits he dons. As Pan, he is a stooped and creepy character, sharp and vicious animal features on his face that make you wonder whether the is to be trusted or not. As Ofelia enters wide eyed into the labyrinth for the first time, my initial thoughts were ones of distrust, and this stayed with me throughout the film, thus keeping me guessing who the heroes and who the villains really are.
At the same time, Jones also plays a creature associated with Ofelia's second task, known as the Pale Man, a gaunt and faceless creature, and this for me is where the creative aspect of Del Toro comes into play, giving us a creature guarding a feast who is described by Pan as an eater of children that is to be avoided and guarded against at all costs. This creature's eyes are separate to him and the way Del Toro allows the eyes to be used properly is fantastic, and will stay with you long after. I found this the most intense and scary part of the fantasy element of the film.
But it's not the scariest aspect for me, and this is probably because it's a fantasy element. The real world above ground where the Captain is ruling with violence is the most haunting element, and the violence really is not held back at all. Nor is our vision of it, as Del Toro makes sure we see everything, so nothing in this part is left to our imagination. That is left to the fantasy world. Overground, there are graphic scenes such as stitching a deep cut, torturing with pliers and screwdrivers, and some sudden and shocking bullet wounds. Above it all is Lopez's Captain's violent streak with absolutely no remorse whatsoever. This is countered by the care and attentiveness and love shown by characters such as Ofelia and Carmen, maid Mercedes (Maribel Verdu) and the Doctor (Alec Angulo). All involved give good performances, with stand out turns from Lopez and Jones beaten only by Ivana Baquero as Ofelia, a brilliant wide-eyed performance from the 12 year old actress, who provides the relaxed normality between the two plot strands of the film.
Del Toro has given us a masterpiece here. You must allow yourself to let the film consume you, and make sure you listen and watch carefully. It's in Spanish with English subtitles, which some find annoying, but after a while you hardly notice that you're following subtitles as the film envelopes you. Ultimately, the majority of the film is visual anyway, so the subtitles become less important as it's more about what happens and not necessarily what is said. The biggest thing is to pay attention - it's certainly not the sort of film you can watch while you're doing something else.
I highly rate this. It's a great film and one I'll no doubt watch again. Not suitable for kids, it carries a 15 certificate and could easily have been given something higher due to the violence it sometimes has. Either way, pay attention and enjoy what you're watching. It's masterful for the majority of it, and allows you to escape, like Ofelia, into a fantasy world. Recommended.
Rated as suitable for 15 years and over.
Director- Guillermo del Toro.
Running time- 118 minutes.
Spanish language film with English subtitles.
Released in 2006.
Available from Amazon for £5.99
Ivana Baquero ... Ofelia
Sergi López ... Vidal
Maribel Verdú ... Mercedes
Doug Jones ... Faun / Pale Man
Ariadna Gil ... Carmen
Álex Angulo ... Doctor
Manolo Solo ... Garcés
César Vea ... Serrano
Roger Casamajor ... Pedro
Ivan Massagué ... El Tarta
Gonzalo Uriarte ... Francés
Eusebio Lázaro ... Padre
Francisco Vidal ... Sacerdote (as Paco Vidal)
Juanjo Cucalón ... Alcalde
I don't normally go for the 'fantasy' type of films but I was bored on a Saturday night and my husband had this film bought for him at Christmas. I do however like historical themed films so it was this part of the 'Blurb' that got me watching it instead of Ant + Dec or one of my daughter's DVD's.
The film is set during The Spanish Civil War in 1944. The main character is a Ofelia a girl about 9 or 10 who travels with her pregnant mother to visit ''The Capitain' her step father who is a fascist in Franco's army. This is in the countryside in Northern Spain
Ofelia likes to read and has a wonderful imagination. She lives some of her life in a fantasy world. A large dragonfly visits her in the night and takes Ofelia to an old abandoned Labyrinth where she meets a faun. The faun tells Ofelia she is an ancient princess and sets her 3 tasks to complete to prove that she is the princess. While watching you think should Ofelia trust the faun and go along with what he asks. One of the imaginary characters is the disturbing man with no face that Ofelia comes across while completing one of the tasks. As an adult watching the film this was creepier than anything in a Harry Potter film.
The fantasy world is interwoven into the other story line beautifully in the film. The end of the film builds into a final climax for both stories.
The other story is based around 'The Capitain' and him trying to quell the 'leftie guerillas' hiding in the woods. 'The Capitain' is a cold and cruel man who is now married to Ofelia's pregnant mother.
Ofelia develops a friendship with the secretive housekeeper Mercedes. Without giving away too much Mercedes is in touch with the guerillas in the woods who 'The Capitain' is in pursuit of. Early on in the film Ofelia becomes aware of Mercedes secret but does not divulge it to anyone as she likes Mercedes.
The film shows Mercedes helping her 'guerrilla' brother Pedro by getting food, letters and medicine to him and associates in the forest. She is assisted by the Doctor who the film subtely shows his fondness towards Mercedes. If or when they are caught both Mercedes and the Doctor know the real danger to themselves and to those in the woods.
I liked the portrayal of Mercedes in the film as although she was in a traditional role as The Capitain's housekeeper her defiance and ingenuity showed that 'ordinary' women can be brave and out fox people even those in positions of authority like The Capitain.
The Capitain is played well as his arrogance and power show him trying to kick the locals and guerrillas into touch. Even in his 'private life' The Capitain is cruel and harsh. The only person he seems to show any emotion towards is to the baby his wife is having and gives birth to in the film. Even this is mixed with believing he cares mostly about the baby carrying on his family name and he expects his wife to give birth to a son.
This film is original and unusual. The fantasy world charcters are done very well. This film is like a fairy tale but not a children's one interlinked with the serious story of The Spanish Civil War and the role of The Capitain. The actual visual impact gives of a dark atmospheric eerie feel.
It is worth giving this film a try as I found it original and it left an impression on me. I am really glad I watched this film
Directed by Guillermo De Toro, other works Hellboy 1 2, The Devils Backbone and Kung Fu Panda 2 (Released this year) amongst others.
Produced by Guillermo De Toro
Written By Guillermo De Toro
Released in June 2006
The film is set in Spain in 1944 some years after the Spanish civil war but pockets of resistance are still fighting the fascist regime, Military outposts are set up to crush the remaining rebels.
The opening shot is of Ofelia the main character lying badly injured blood pouring from her nose pale and close to death this fades out until
A narration cuts in.
A long Time ago
In The underground Realm
Where there are No Lies or Pain
There lived a Princess who dreamt Of the Human World
She dreamt Of Blue Skies
Soft breeze And Sunshine
Eluding her keepers the Princess Escaped
Once outside the Sunlight Blinded Her
And erased her Memory
She forgot who she was and where she came from
Her body suffered cold sickness and Pain
And eventually she dies
However Her father the King
Always knew that the princess soul would return
Perhaps in another body
In Another Place At another time
And he would wait for her to his last breath
Until the world stopped turning
Carmen and Ofelia are being driven to a military camp when the car stops because her mother is feeling sick due to her being pregnant, Ofelia wanders off encounters some strange carved stones and even more peculiar A large flying stick insect, they arrive at their destination to be greeted by Captain Vidal Ofelias stepfather and father to Carmen unborn child, its soon apparent that he's not a very pleasant individual
This military gathering is where we find Captain Vidal in charge of a small garrison of troops camped in the backwoods, one of the other leading characters is reveled, Mercedes a personal maid to Vidal.
At this point in the film you would most certainly conclude that this is a typical fairytale movie and be lulled into a sense of a unfolding warm harmless tale, we've been here before feeling is soon shattered violently before your eyes when Captain Vidal and some off his troops have captured 2 men and are integrating them, Vidal is not happy with the answers offered up and proceeds to pummel the younger man in the face using the thick end of the bottle to cave in his flesh and bone he pounds away until the young man falls to the ground bloodied and a pulped mess.
This jarring act of vicious brutality is what sets this film apart it lunges from bone hard stone reality to fantasy.
Its Nighttime, the odd flying insect returns to Ofelia it turns into a winged fairy and she follows it outside to the entrance of the labyrinth a overgrown area of stone and brush she climes down a old spiral stone staircase and there confronts a faun a half human half goat creature a rustic forest god.
The faun is convinced that Ofelia is the princess returned as mentioned in the early narration but he needs to be sure that she's not mortal and as with all great fairy tales she has three tasks she has to carry out, he gives a book for her to read to guide her in three quests but the book has blank pages.
The faun is a brilliant creature in the film not a CGI recreation but a actor in a costume and he looks fantastic
Scary to look at but he's wise and intelligent and possesses a comical charm with nervous twitches thrown in for good measures an amazing fantasy figure.
We return to the real world where the plot is thickening, its centered around the vile Captain and the maid, its becoming clear that she is connected in some way to the rebels, they discover a hoard of food and medicine and Vidal decides to keep the only key to the store, the fact that he makes it clear to the maid that he holds the one single key is obvious the captain is setting Mercedes up for a fall, he is well aware that she will lead him straight to the renegades.
She begins the three tasks carried out by Ofelia as the words in the once blank book magically appear to her the first task she has to get a giant frog to cough up a key which she will need later all typical fantasy stuff that wouldn't look out of place in Alice in Wonderland something children could watch.
The second task In order for her to prove her mortality you wouldn't want your cherubs to see, and the creature she encounters will give you nightmares for years to come its played brilliantly by the actor who plays Faun his bodily movements are creepy and the costume incredible and it's a monster that's going to pursue you relentlessly for many feverish dreams to come very scary and surreal.
I will not continue with the story of Pans Labyrinth so as not to spoil it for future viewers, but just to tempt those who wish to give this brilliant movie a chance, its two superb intriguing stories running side by side until the closing reels where they come together in a fascinating climatic ending, in places its brutal and violent both in the real world and the fairy tale story its no Harry Potter, this tale delivers shocking moments and will remain long in the memory, the acting is suburb very natural and gritty.
Many of my favorite movies are foreign made quite simply they are in many cases streets ahead than films with triple the budgets and there lies the answer they work hard damn hard to create a movie with a tough biting edge, the comfort of money is not there they need to get things right and the details and creative minds are sharpened, from the Director to the special effects team there is more discipline, substance is of more value then quantity, it shines through and long may it continue.
Ivana Baquero plays Ofelia with a sublime performance she won many awards for the movie
And went on to appear in the Anarchist Wife and the New Daughter.
Doug Jones is the Faun and a child eating monster in the film, his bodily movements are astounding and brilliant, cloaked in full make up and costume the effect is startling.
Sergi Lopez portrays Captain Vidal A hateful monster of a man you will be clamoring for a vengeful end to this character from the very outset and if an actor can emote such an emotion then he's done his job.
Mairibel Verdu is Mercedes the personal maid to Vidal and you will sympathize with her plight a very sharp gritty performance.
Arianda Gill is the mother of Ofelia and another flawless portrayal, as are all the actors in the film all bring a quality that we very rarely get in one project at the same time, Pans labyrinth once watched is a worthwhile experience, there are fairy tale fantasy films there are war films but I can't think of many that are interwoven so masterfully together to bring you a thrilling production, it's a wonderful film that could easily pass you by its not loaded with Hollywood names nor laden with Oscars but its quality is unquestionable
Set in Spain 1944. Ofelia (Baruero) must move in with her fascist stepfather. Here her fairytale awaits, but unimaginable tasks are set for her trial to become queen of the labyrinth.
You start with a classic fairytale, then Guillermo Der Toro'ise it, and you end with Pans Labyrinth. What else would you expect from a nine times academy award winner! A torturing master piece. A child's nightmare! Yet behind the monsters and 'baddies', a beautiful captivating story line. You aren't sure whether to sympathize with the characters or just hide in the corner and scream. Yet you force yourself to watch with one eye open.
The Pale Man (Jones) really does scare you half to death. With eyes in his hands, and munches on little children, he really is your worst nightmare. I dread to imagine how Guillermo Der Toro created such a thing. It's disturbing when you see a pile of shoes, children's shoes. The sound effects used in this scene, just add to the tension in your body. You are well and truly freaked when you hear the sounds of babies screaming.
The Faun, who is also played by Jones, guides Ofelia throughout the film. Yet still he looks pretty scary! Originally Guillermo Der Toro intended him to be child size. As a child this amazing director used to see a faun hide behind his wardrobe, this is what gave him the inspiration for such a creature! Well, if that was me I would have screamed my head off!
I give Guillermo Der Toro credit for his use in contrasting the two worlds, fairytale and real life. It's not till you watch it for the second time, and you have stopped screaming that you actually notice the use of colours, and sound effects. When in the real universe he uses tones such as grey, blue and green, maybe to portray the coldness and evil of our world. Then in contrast he uses colours such as reds and gold's to show a warmer and happier world within the labyrinth. He wanted the colours to remind people of the Wizard of Oz. Once pointed out you will see that the kitchen scene is the same in both worlds, just different colours. The amount of detail that Guillermo Der Toro inputted is outstanding, making the fairytale come to life.
Like every fairytale there is a rule of three, Three Little Pigs, the Three Bears. Yes, Guillermo Der Toro has followed the rule! Within the film you will notice that there are; 3 men, 3 women, 3 fairies, 3 doors for the key, and 3 thrones. Has this film really got everything in it?
The use of camera shots was very effective. He started with a slanted shot, adding effect and emotion straight from the beginning. Throughout the film he continued to use various camera shots such as; close ups, point of view shots, wide shots and many others. The use of these grabbed your attention, and made the film more interesting to watch. Can he really do anything wrong?
'Oh great, a subtitle film,' Yes, that was my first impression. Yet Guillermo Der Toro has transformed me. The subtitles help you to understand what's happening down to the slightest detail. Surprisingly, you can still feel the emotion of every word, truly skillful.
This is a remarkable film, showing all of Guillermo Der Toro's skills. A masterpiece in Spanish. It truly deserved its 3 Academy Awards,
a film worth watching. So that's what happens when fairytales come to life...
This triple Oscar-winning, fantastical film mixes elements of brutal realism with magical escapism, reminiscent of a warped C.S Lewis or Lewis Carroll creation. Like The Lion , The Witch and the Wardrobe this story also contains a little girl and a faun; like Alice in Wonderland we have a little girl in a magical subterranean land. But unlike these two seminal works, Pan's Labyrinth is yet more sinister and concentrates principally on the nightmarish reality above ground, while periodically swooping below into the beguiling, and often terrifying, underworld.
Above ground, the setting is post-civil war Spain in 1944. We share a journey with young Ofelia and her widowed, pregnant mother, Carmen, who has recently re-married. Her new husband is the fearful and ruthless Captain Vidal of Franco's army. They are journeying to their base camp, located in a valley, where they will reside while the military attempt to expulse the dissident guerillas in the surrounding hills. Also in the party, are two of the film's major players in Mercedes, one of Vidal's maidservants, and his physician, Dr Ferreiro. Ofelia detests her stepfather, with good reason, and she is not alone. Vidal is convinced that Carmen is going to bear him a son, and rather like our own uncompromising ogre of a monarch Henry VIII, he will not even entertain the thought of the newborn being a girl.
We are given several foreshadowings of Vidal's ruthless and evil nature; he is clearly not a man to meddle with. In one scene, a pair of his troops alert him to two men found in the surrounding woods, whom they believe to be guerillas. They turn out to be father and son, out hunting rabbits, and vainly remonstrate as much. The son dares to speak in defence of his father, which is enough for Vidal to kill them both. The most chilling part about the scene is the way in which he calmly looks in their shoulder bags to, indeed, discover some rabbits. Without a hint of remorse or regret, he coldly scolds his guards for their oversight. It is telling that Vidal is more angry with this lack of attention to detail than the erroneous killing of the men. He is portrayed as a vain, fastidious man and not much escapes his notice.
His repulsive character is also evidenced at a dinner party where he treats his wife appallingly by cutting her off in mid-speech and generally subjecting her to toe-curling insubordination. Carmen's later pain and illness prior to childbirth also prompts Vidal to instruct Dr Ferreiro, should the dilemma arise, to save the child rather than the mother.
Such foreshadowing is essential to the plot as it reveals the bravery, bordering on foolhardiness, of two of his trusted employees. Without naming names, they have been sneaking out provisions and offering their help to the guerillas. This clandestine operation is often done in the dead of night, or under the ostensible pretext of searching for firewood. The terrifying risk that such a mission carries is almost unbearable, as certain death would await the perpetrators, were their daring duplicity to be uncovered. However, this gauntlet is not just run in the name of politics, although Vidal's repulsiveness is a partial motivator. More tellingly, we learn that one of these traitors has a brother, Pedro, who is a guerilla.
The parallel story involves Ofelia in the underworld, which is reached via the winding labyrinth of the film's title. A magical praying mantis-like insect leads her through this maze to the faun. Now this is quite a benevolent faun but, even so, it is nothing like the jolly Mr. Tumnus in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Instead, she is greeted by a stoop-backed, wheezing individual. Much to the girl's surprise the faun informs her that she is Princess Moanna, Daughter of the King of Bezmorra - King of the Underworld. Despite her initial apprehension she is presented with the blank Book of Crossroads. At her touch, however, the book magically comes to life and it will be instrumental in helping her to complete three tasks set by the faun. These tasks, we learn, will help Ofelia to reveal her true identity.
The underworld scenes are by turns bizarre, mesmerising and horrific. We encounter a plethora of giant bugs and creepy-crawlies that will make you think twice about overturning any rocks in your garden. There are some delightful, hovering fairies, a gross, vomiting giant toad and one of the scariest 'things' I've seen in any film over the years. This particular creation is a white, blank-faced figure with eyes in the centre of its palms. There is also the unnerving sight of an animated mandrake root, which morphs disturbingly into a crying baby. The special effects are superb as Guillermo Del Toro's chaotic imagination runs infinite riot. It is also an ingenious concept whereby Ofelia can enter the underworld from her bedroom, and vice-versa, by drawing a door on the wall with a piece of chalk. These sequences are like the result of an opium-fuelled liaison between Salvador Dali and Ken Russell. Despite this, the blend of magic realism really does work; I can't explain why, other than to say that Del Toro must be some kind of directorial genius.
For those of a delicate disposition the film is very violent and unsettling in places. Vidal is usually, but not always, never very far away when gore is to the fore. We encounter torture with pliers and hammers, and wildly unjustified shootings. There is a scene with a leg being hacksawed off, and another with a severely gashed face being sewn back together by the victim's own hand. In both cases the crude anaesthetic is orally administered alcohol. You have been warned!
The acting performances are flawless. Vidal is wickedly well portrayed by Sergi Lopez. I can't help thinking how much he resembles a young Severiano Ballesteros. As Seve seems to be one of the most affable of people, his character is thus diametrically opposed to that of Vidal's. Therefore, this makes Lopez's performance all the more remarkable as he transcends my doppelganger distraction issues! How often do we watch a film or TV drama, but can not take a character seriously because they visually remind us of someone else completely incongruous?
Ofelia is precociously played by Ivana Baquero, who appears to be a prodigy of serious note. Although largely bed-ridden for much of the film Ariadna Gil portrays the subservient Carmen with understated precision. Alex Angulo turns in a suitably serious performance as Dr Ferreiro, resembling a Hispanic Emile Zola as he scurries around under the domineering direction of the venomous Vidal. Mention should also be made of Mercedes, a thoroughly laudable character played with no-nonsense aplomb by Maribel Verdu.
Pan's Labyrinth is a curious yet enthralling and engaging film, although it may be one that many will have reservations about seeing. Nevertheless, I would strongly recommend that you overcome any such resistance or inhibitions and afford it a viewing, as it is a richly fulfilling, mind-expanding experience. Although the above-ground story and subterranean sub-plot may seem like strange and incompatible bedfellows, they actually complement each other remarkably well and, as you will see, they are inextricably linked.
I would also urge you not to be put off by the subtitles. Visually these are clear
and large, while the dialogue is pretty terse anyway. Moreover, they become more and more imperceptible due to the compulsive storyline. Finally, you get to listen to the beautiful sing-song lilt and cadence of the Spanish language. Although obviously not a directorially contrived device, I feel that the beauty of the language offers up another satisfying paradox, set against the unflinching brutality of the film itself.
As regards the ending, I will leave you with the words of Director, Guillermo Del Toro. In the director's commentary he intriguingly states that the film is:
"...like a litmus test of who you are. If you come out of the movie and you say the ending was depressing and existential, then that's your bag. If you come out of the movie and say the ending was poetic and uplifting and moving, I agree with that one. I'm more in favour of that interpretation. But that doesn't mean it's right. But it does indicate who you are, which I find funny"!
Guillermo Del Toro
Ofelia/ Ivana Baquero
Vidal/ Sergi Lopez
Mercedes/ Maribel Verdu
Fauno/ Doug Jones
Carmen/ Adriana Gil
Doctor Ferreiro/ Alex Angulo
Garces/ Manolo Sol
Serrano/ Cesar Vea
Pedro/ Roger Casamajor
Director's commentary, subtitles.
Pan's Labyrinth (English language title for the Spanish film Laberinto del Fauno). Yes that means the film is in Spanish with English subtitles. The film is set in Spain - Post War (1944) - in a woodland military base. Where Captain Videl (played by Sergi Lopez) awaits the arrival of his wife, Carmen (Ariadna Gil), who is expecting his child and his step daughter, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero).
Captain Videl is running a military operation from this woodland base and assassinates any rebels who are against him, with a limited number of soldiers staying in and around the base.
There are also a few locals helping out at the base with day to day work, cooking and cleaning - but only two of these characters are really in the limelight - the maid, Mercedes and the Doctor.
One can guess from the start that Captain Videl is the evil in all of this and is simply a violent bully of the military persuasion. Who really dislikes everyone but himself.
His wife, Carmen is suffering badly in her pregnancy and is due to give birth very soon. The Doctor helps her all he can but when he comes to it, Videl is only interested in gaining a son and tells the doctor to save the baby if it comes to it.
Ofelia is understandably somewhat aware of the situation even if it's not fully. And either her mother ill, she turns to Mercedes for some warmth and comfort. However she also finds escape when she discovers she's the lost princess of her own world and secretly begins the three tasks given to her by a faun called Pan to regain her place in that world.
I admit that it sounds rather an odd mix - the drama of a war; it's hellish Captain and a fairytale of a Princess finding her way back to her Kingdom - but I assure you that it works, and it works really well. The two worlds begin to be brought together very early in the film with a dragonfly who spots Ofelia arriving at the base - the dragonfly in fact being a fairy from her world and this really sets the atmosphere of what is to come.
I'm very much into fantasy and so the fantasy part of this film with the faun, the fairies, etc is what really drew me in. The characters are excellently designed, with sets to suit. Pan is brought to life convincingly by Doug Jones, sing a dark and yet also warming tone to voice the creature you are never quite sure whether he is good or bad as he never gives this away until the end. The monster, which is really just described as "not human" Ofelia meets during the second task is more of the horror side of fantasy creatures, some may find him scary... I personally just found it rather creepy but this means the creature has done it's job well.
I felt more horrified at the violence and brutality of the reality section - which mostly came from Captain Videl. There's no camera sliding away from the action - you will see it all and for me this made me look away from the screen a few times. However, even if I did need to look away I really feel that these scenes added to Videl's character, the pressure the people living with him were under and the reality of what was really going on in the base.
All the characters had very strong personalities in this movie, which as you will see when watching it are needed to survive. The only one I was really disappointed with was Carmen - Ofelia's mother and Captain Videl's wife. She is of course very ill and heavily pregnant so a lot of the time she is asleep or exhausted. You don't really get to know a whole lot about her other than her relationships with Videl and Ofelia. Nor do you get any inside as to why she puts up with Videl's violent ways - as although you never see him harm her - he does say such things as "Please excuse my wife she thinks her little stories are interesting to people". Even when Ofelia asks for more of an explanation as to why they don't leave - she does not give any clues. She seems a very worn down woman in a world of strong characters - even one strong moment would have been good to see her have.
I have to say that Ofelia and Mercedes stand out the most with the most gruelling of tasks to be undertaken , and both actresses play these parts wonderfully. Ofelia particularly is at that stage where she's starting to realise reality in an extremely difficult situation.
For those of you wondering if the subtitles is a problem - it's not, you'll be pulled into the story and soon won't even notice your reading the subtitles.
The film can be heavy and is quite dark (in atmosphere) - even the fantasy parts are dark, so it may take you a few times of watching it to take it all in as it's very clever, well thought out and stunning.
Pan's Labyrinth is rated 15 in the UK, which given the violence in it is well deserved. I feel that if a child under this age really wanted to watch it, parents should be sure they can handle it first.
I'm captivated by Pan's Labyrinth and the mixture of themes it brings to the table. Childhood innocence and fantasy meets reality and brutality.
The film is enchanting but also disturbing - it will definitely keep you on your toes.
Ofelia's experiences are really left up to the viewer to decide, either she really is the Princess of the underworld and really met all these creatures or she went through a form of child escapism to get her through the traumatic experiences of living at a military base, living with Videl as a step father and losing her mother. Whichever you decide can change the entire mood of the film for you - especially the ending.
I own the 2 Disc DVD set which includes Director's Commentary, Video Introduction by the Director, Video Prologue, Trailers, Storyboards and all the usual goodies. Considering how different this film is to anything out there, these features are definitely worth a look.
Very clever film, I'd recommend it to anyone.
Pan's Labyrinth is a fairytale set in post Civil War Spain. We follow the story of Ophelia, a young girl who, with her pregnant mother, is moved into the dark house of Captain Vidal. The film is told elegantly in a dual storyline. The first is set in real life - Carmen, Ophelia's mother, being bullied by Vidal and falling ill through pregnancy; Mercedes, servant to Vidal, befriending Ophelia and trying to do the right thing for the resistance fighters that Vidal is trying to crush; and Ophelia herself, wanting to meet her baby brother, but terrified by her new house and reluctant to call Vidal 'father'. The other storyline in the film follows Ophelia through a garden labyrinth into a dreamlike fairytale world, where she meets Pan, who believes that she is the soul of a long lost princess. Ophelia is invited to perform three tasks to prove she is royalty - each one more surreal and terrifying than the last. Both storylines collide at the end in a melancholic and ambiguous climax that leaves the watcher thoughtful, rather than thrilled.
I didn't watch Pan's Labyrinth at the cinema - in fact, it has curiously passed me by right up until last Saturday. I don't know where my reluctance stemmed from - maybe the foreign language aspect, maybe the massive hype accompanying its release, maybe the gore I heard about. Anyway, when we chose to watch a film on Saturday, the person recommending Pan's Labyrinth urged me to try at least the first half hour - if I was still reluctant, we could turn it off and I wouldn't really have lost any time.
Needless to say, the film was not turned off. In fact, by the time ten minutes had passed, I was enthralled by Ophelia's story. Pan's Labyrinth by turn appalled me, thrilled me, sickened me, delighted me - to me, it presents everything that a fairytale requires: a hero, a villain, magic, and a message.
One of my friends argued that the film was simply two separate stories mashed together by Guillermo del Toro, but I loved the way Ophelia travelled from dream to reality and back again. I admired the reflections between fairytale and life. I thrilled to the fact that Ophelia was fighting against two sinister individuals in the two facets of her life. I especially appreciated the fact that I am still wondering, days later, about whether Ophelia really did travel into a fairytale or whether she created the dreamlike world as a way of escaping the life she hated with Vidal.
I'm not ashamed to say that Pan's Labyrinth scared me silly at times, especially the monsters, both real and imagined - y favourite part of the film was also the part that scared me the most, this being during Ophelia's second task when she has to retrieve a knife without disturbing a slumbering nightmare. Gosh, that freaked me out!
The performances were universally extremely strong, and the fact they I had to follow their dialogue with subtitles took nothing away from their performances. I find that this is definitely the mark of how good a foreign language film is for me: if the subtitle aspect is non-obtrusive and I am not disturbed from the course of a film by reading along, then it is excellent!
Lastly, I just want to mention how stunningly beautiful this film is - especially all of the fairytale elements. How I regret not bothering to see this at the cinema! I definitely think this is the sort of film that HD and Blueray were invented for.
If you, like me, haven't watched Pan's Labyrinth - for whatever reason - I would urge you to change your mind and give it at least a try. It is horrific, scary, beautiful and melancholic. The story of Ophelia will stay with you long after the closing credits. Highly recommended.
I first watched this film in my Spanish class - I was told it was a children's film. I can assure you, it is not. It follows the story of a young girl Ofelia, who is moved to one of Franco's local leader's country house, after her mother becomes impregnated with his child.
Ofelia then meets a faun - and not a pleasant looking James McAVoy like in the Narnia films. This faun tells her that she is the princess in another realm. He gives her three tasks to prove that she truly is the right person that he is looking for.
The film is excellently made - a terrible situation for Ofelia, and a possible escape to another world - but there are also some gruesome and saddening scenes. There are also some wonderful little scenes - the faun hands Ofelia a piece of chalk at one point, and draws a door to lead her to the second task - a moment where I had a sudden desire for some chalk in order to draw my own door.
The worst scene is that of a monster who eats children. He has eyeballs in his eyes and at this point I was actually cowering.
The ending is somewhat ambiguous, but I'll not go into details so as not to ruin the film.
My advice, however, is not to be put off by the subtitles, or the fact that is a children's fantasy film - because I can assure you, it's not.
Film's Title - Pan's Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno)
Year of Release - 2006
Director - Guillermo del Toro
Stars of the Film - Ivana Baquero, Sergi Lopez, Doug Jones, Maribel Verdu
MPAA rating - R, UK rating - 15
My 17-year-old daughter has been watching lots of DVDs at her friend's house recently and she came home full of enthusiasm for Pan's Labyrinth. A quick check on the Amazon website showed it was available cheaply and as I had some money left in a gift certificate there, I ordered the DVD and watched it today.
Pan's Labyrinth is the English language title for the Spanish film El Laberinto del Fauno, which was made in 2006. It is set in Spain in 1944 and follows a young girl called Ofelia (played beautifully by Ivana Baquero, who was only 12 years old when she filmed this!). She moves with her mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) to live with her new stepfather Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez) in a military base in the woods, from where he runs operations and tries to assassinate the rebels who are against him.
Captain Vidal is a brutal and ruthless fascist and you quickly come to hate him. His only interest in Carmen is the baby she is carrying, as he wants a son and heir. Ofelia is an annoyance to him and he ignores her as much as possible. With her mother's pregnancy seriously affecting her health, Ofelia turns to one of the Captain's servants Mercedes (Maribel Verdu) for help and warmth.
Ofelia loves books and fairytales and soon meets a fairy who takes her to an underground world, where she encounters Pan the faun (Doug Jones). He informs her she is really a princess and if she successfully completes three difficult tasks, she will meet her true father and take up her rightful place in the kingdom.
It may sound an odd mix - tough drama and fantasy, but they are combined beautifully and the visual effects are stunning throughout. I was drawn in quite quickly, mainly due to the excellent acting by Ivana Baquero and the beautiful dragonfly which turns into a very realistic fairy. (That may sound like an oxymoron, but you know what I mean!)
My favourite parts of Pan's Labyrinth are the fantasy sections, as I love weird and wonderful creatures and creative sets and this film has all of that. Pan is a beautifully realised creation and brought to life convincingly by Doug Jones, who adds an ambiguity to the character, so you are never quite sure whether he is good or bad. The monster Ofelia meets during the second task is also very inventive and imaginative, though I didn't find him as scary as some reviewers did.
The horror element of the film for me came from the brutality of the violence in the 'real' setting and there were two or three occasions when I had to look away from the screen. I feel I have quite a strong stomach, but did not relish the view of someone's face being smashed in or someone's cheek being slit across. The make up and effects were excellent though and everything looked remarkably realistic.
Despite its fairytale feel, this film is NOT for children and is rated a 15 in the UK. My 14-year-old daughter watched some of it and didn't seem to mind, but I definitely wouldn't recommend it for younger kids.
I found the film captivating and enchanting, while being quite horrific and disturbing. The parallel worlds work very well together and I never felt I was being taken out of the action, but happily followed along from one reality to another. Of course, the big question can be argued to be whether the fantasy world is actually real for Ofelia, or just a kind of childish escapism, to give her a brief respite from the real troubles she has to suffer every day. Your view on this will taint your feelings on the final scenes of the film, as it can be seen as tragic or triumphant. To me, I found it positive and uplifting, as I chose to believe that the fantasy world was just as true as the real one.
There are few criticisms I can make of the film. It is beautiful to watch with stunning sets and it was no surprise to discover it won Academy Awards in 2007 for art direction, cinematography and make-up. I loved all the make-believe creatures too and especially the rather cute mandrake, who seems to take on a whole personality way above its initial appearance as a bit of a tree root!
The acting is excellent throughout too. You really support Mercedes (Maribel Verdu) and the Doctor (Alex Angulo) and hope their endeavours are successful, while vehemently hating Captain Vidal - which shows what a great performance Sergi Lopez gives! I think the only character which failed slightly was Carmen, as I found she was a bit annoyingly weak and subservient and I didn't care about her as much as I maybe should have done.
The star is undoubtedly young Ivana Baquero though and her Ofelia has everything - that charming innocence and wonder of childhood mixed with a realisation that life can be incessantly cruel and vicious - the sort of thing we wish to protect our children from knowing too soon. You want to nurture and protect little Ofelia, but at the same time, she has an almost regal presence which makes you feel you would be safe in her care too. This "otherworldly-ness" fits in perfectly with the idea that Ofelia may really be a princess of a fantasy world and keeps the idea alive that it all could be true after all.
Pan's Labyrinth is a clever, unusual and thought-provoking film which delivers on several levels and I would definitely recommend it.
Pan's Labyrinth is currently available on DVD from Amazon UK for £3.99, with a 2-disc set for £6.99.
The single disc DVD has a director commentary on it as the only extra.
The film lasts just under two hours and is in Spanish with English subtitles.
I refused to watch Pan's Labyrinth until recently as I had shunned the idea of watching a "fantasy" film as they're not really my thing. The fact that this film is subtitled also didn't really sell it on me. However, the increasing amount of positive reviews I read about this film, along with recommendations from friends made me take the plunge and I'm glad I did, this is quite simply a fantastic film.
The film is based in Spain, five years after the Spanish Civil War and centres around a young girl, Ofelia, whose mother is pregnant by evil Franco-supporting local leader, Captain Vidal. Ofelia's mother moves her to Vidal's country house awaiting the birth of her child. Vidal is less interested in either Ofelia or her mother and in reality is only truly with her to father a son and heir.
As Ofelia becomes increasingly unhappy at the new arrangement and the fact that her mother is getting ill, she meets a faun (here comes the fantasy part people!) who tells her that she is the Princess of the Underground Realm but needs to prove herself by completing three tests.
The story cuts between Ofelia's fantasy adventures and the real world where Vidal is becoming an increasingly evil villain as he hunts down the anti-Franco guerillas hiding around the area in between showing disdain for the absent Ofelia and her sickly mother. To add to the issues, housekeeper Mercedes shows real care and compassion towards Ofelia and her mother but her brother is one of the guerillas that Vidal is trying to kill.
Without ruining the plot completely, the story continues to a tense and exciting finale as you are left wondering if Vidal will ever get his come uppance and whether Ofelia's fantasy world is real or not.
Despite this film being labelled as a "fantasy" it certainly isn't for young children. One of the best, and possibly scariest parts of the film, is Ofelia's second test where she has to recover a dagger from a huge banquetting room. The faun warns her not to eat anything from the banquet table which is guarded by a grotesque child eating monster. She gets the dagger but the tasty grapes prove far too tempting for her and she eats two, bringing the monster to life. Ofelia has to battle to get out of the lair before the monster attacks her and this part genuinely had me screaming at the screen like a big girl!
The storyline to the film is wonderfully told and is perhaps the real beauty of it as the fantasy, and sometimes graphic reality are acted out. The film was both written and directed by Mexican Guillermo Del Toro who has since been headhunted to Hollywood after its success. The film received critical success on its release and won numerous awards.
I can't recommend this film enough and even though it is subtitled, you soon forget and follow along without noticing. It is a marvellous film, but make sure the kids are old enough before you let them watch it as nightmares of the child eating monster still haunt my wife to this day!
This is my favourite film of all time. Having been a fan of Guillermo Del Toro since Cronos, I have anticipated his films with great enthusiasm. Now when the Devil's Backbone came out with its dark yet incredibly charming depth, I was not disappointed. Then, hearing that the Devil's Backbone's spiritual successor was coming out in the form of Pan's Labyrinth, the time counting down to its release could not have been slower. I spent my time scouring the internet for interviews and shots from the sets just to get an iota of an idea as to what the film was about. The trailer was then released and I believed it to be a full on fantasy film - no longer a fusion of fantasy and reality.
However, when the time came for me to see it, I realised that Del Toro had in fact held fast to his traditional approaches in film making and the film remained a cohesion of graphic wartime horrors seen in the Spanish Civil War and a fairytale from time immemorial. These, combined with Del Toro's artistic flair, culminate in a cinematic masterpiece of which directors in the future should refer back to as the paradigm of fantasy and war-time drama.
The film centres on a young girl Ofelia, an individual who is still fascinated by fairytales and legends of which her mother shows disdain - for she thinks Ofelia is too old for such 'nonsense'. Ofelia initially agrees to put aside her book of tales. However, once Ofelia and her mother arrive at her step-father's, Captain Vidal's, household in the mountains. However, Vidal's slimy and vulgar demeanour is too much for Ofelia, and fantasy once again permeates her life - but this time not through story books. She is beckoned by a small fairy into a Labyrinth in which she meets the legendary faun Pan. He reveals that if she wants to join her real father, the king of a magical kingdom, then she must complete three tasks before three days time. Meanwhile a small war is brewing between Captain Vidal with the leftists and the insurgent republicans. The two stories fall side by side and often crossover to show immediate contrasts between them both. Yet there are also stark reflections of each other. For instance, Ofelia keeps quiet about the trials set to her and the servants of Vidal keep quiet about their sympathies with the Republicans.
Guillermo Del Toro's distinct directing and artistic style is prevalent throughout - especially in the fantastical side of things. The website http://www.panslabyrinth.com/ shows us some of Del Toro's sketches and ideas for the film - and it is interesting to see how these came to fruition in the film. He states that a lot of his inspiration comes from the Victorian artist Arthur Rackham and having viewed a few of his pieces, I can see that the similarities are somewhat noticeable. It is the combined ideas of Del Toro and the acting and bravura performance skills which truly bring the most vivid characters to life. First, is the eerily magnificent Faun of who sets the tasks for the young princess. He is very much the icon of the film - the icon which lured me into watching the film. The words he speak are of a trustworthy nature, yet it is the way that Jones portrays his movements and stances which give hint to the audience that there could be something not quite right about him. It is the portrayal of 'the Pale Man' which adds the element of horror to the film. He is a grotesque ancient being which awakes if someone partakes in his feat. He eats children and so when Ofelia decides to eat a grape, he awakens, picks up his eyes from the table in front of him, proceeds to put them in his hands, and follows Ofelia in one of the most terrifying chases I have ever seen.
The performance of the intelligent, amiable Ofelia is extraordinarily good. Played by Ivana Baquero, Ofelia is proven to be a strong-willed, self-motivated and brave character that sees things that no girl of her age should be seeing. For an actor to have such a dynamic range at such a young age is remarkable and it is testament to her that she still stands out - even with Doug Jones present.
The contrast between the Civil War and the trials of Ofelia are contrasted in both tone and cinematography. There is a dull feeling of pessimism which overrides both parallel storylines. When we see the fantasy side of things, there is often a dull blue tint to the camera which adds certainly to the sense of the unknown in the tale, but it also reflects the sense of melancholy which prevails over the film. In the real side of things, it is Captain Vidal's iron grip on the lives of so many that depresses. Yet probably the greatest contrast between the two is the graphic nature of reality and the soft magical nature of fantasy. The world of the mysterious Faun has the pretence and promise of dangerous and potentially lethal situations - however, these never come to realisation. On the other hand, the mordant reality is far more monstrous, with captain Vidal, and all members of the fight behaving grotesquely. For instance, in one scene, Vidal bludgeons someone to death in the face with a bottle for being out at night. The housekeeper, a character who we are supposed to admire and sympathise with, cuts a man's cheek in half.
The job of capturing the essence of Pan's Labyrinth musically was given to Academy-Award nominated composer Javier Navarette. He is a relatively unknown individual, though he has collaborated with Del Toro in the past with the 'Devil's Backbone' of which I was not as impressed with. However, he has really put himself on the 'musical map' with this 21 track album. Del Toro has claimed that Pan's Labyrinth was designed to be reminiscent of a bed-time story and when you listen to the first track "Long, Long time ago", the simple lullaby of which the rest of the soundtrack is based upon, you do get the cosy warm feeling which you used to get when tucked into your bed at night. His work is permeated by a sense of dull melancholy which strangely excites. Navarette uses the whole orchestra to their full potential, however, the main focus is on the strings, harps and occasionally the choirs. The combination of all culminates in a magical depression which very acutely reflects the narrative of the film.
What Del Toro seeks to achieve in this film is slightly ambiguous - for what happens in the film is not clear. Is the fantasy land that Ofelia becomes immersed in real? Or is it a young girl's form of severe escapism which she uses to remove herself from the turmoil of reality? This question is brought up at the end of the film especially - but I will not ruin this for those of you who have not seen it. For a full discussion of the meanings of the film, please look to here for a fascinating breakdown of the film.
This film then has something for most people. However, unfortunately, it was not marketed as such. The adverts simply focused on the mythical side of the film, and the civil war was brushed over. This then divided its audience as those who were drawn to fantasy flocked to see it, whilst those who enjoy realism dismissed it as an otherworldly film such as Del Toro's work take on the comic Hellboy. Hopefully, if anyone does read this review, that those people will see that it is at least a 50/50 split - perhaps even 60/40 in favour of reality.
With Guillermo Del Toro being assigned as the director for the Hobbit films, he has now secured his place in Hollywood as a director with much skill, finesse and creativity. Peter Jackson has given trust to him to build off of his fantastic trilogy. If the fans of the Lord of the Rings were ever scared of anyone else but Peter Jackson directing the film, they won't be now. The scintillating and mesmerising Pan's Labyrinth is enough to entomb Del Toro in the chamber of the greatest directors to have ever graced this earth.
Innocence, disobedience, archetypes and symbolism this brutal fairy tale has everything you could want from a red riding hood grounded story. The film is directed by Guillermo Del Toro who uses his own extensive recollection of mythology and fairy tale significance to create a rich fantasy world as well as a cold hard reality. It's like Alice in wonderland set in WWII fascist Spain.
The story unravels when a young girl named Ophelia accompanied by her pregnant mother arrive at her step father's home in the forest. Ophelia's step father - a fascist captain in the Spanish army is slowly pushing back a rebel resistance in the woods and is about to father a baby boy Ophelia's mother. Ophelia follows a fairy into an old labyrinth only to find a fawn is waiting for her return. He tells her she's a princess and belongs in the under realm but to return there she must complete 3 tasks by the next full moon.
Its great that Pan's Labyrinth has got the attention it deserves even though it lost out in the Oscars for best foreign language film. The actors are great, the art direction is great. Even the monster designs are much creepier than cheesy Hollywood creature designs.
I would recommend this to anyone that hasn't seen it.
Review also on Ciao.co.uk under username- Pippylong
Its 1944 and the end of the war looms,based in spain the story sees a young girl called Ofelia,take to the counrtyside to live with her pregnant mothers new man,the facist Captain Vidal.Her father is dead and her mum is trying to secure a safe future for them both.Captain Vidal is locked in a battle with a guerilla group that are hiding out in the neigbouring wood land area.Vidals housekeepr and dcotor are secretly helping the resistance.Ofelia also becomes disobidiant to the tyrant.
She soon wonders off ,after following what she belives is a fairy into an underground cavern.It is here she meets Pan .Pan is a fawn from another world where he proceeds to tell Ofelia that she is not of this world ,and is from the same world as him,In order to get back to her world she must complete 3 tasks.The 3 tasks involve her batteling a giant frog,meeting the pale man who eats children and has his eyes in the palm of his hands.And the shedding of innocent blood.All this whilst in the real world Vidal is proving to be a real monster who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.Will Ofelia complete the tasks and avoid the monsterous Vidal,to get safely back to her own land????
The scenery in the film is phenominal in both the action sequences between the resistance and Vidal , and the fairytale world that Orelia is thrust into.The creators must have a very good sense of imagination to have come up with some of the set designs and puppets.
Being directed by Guilerrmo del toro this definatley makes a seamless transistion from fantasy to reality.If you have seen any of his other films then you will no he pays the upmost attention to detail.
It is a very scary film just because of the creatures that are involved the child eater monster is particularily scary ,and really freaked me out the first time i saw it.Its worth buying the film just to see the scene where he first places his eyeballs into his palms and you see him in all his glory.
The film is all in spanish so if you are not a fan of foreign films this may not be to your liking, you will still however enjoy the stunning visuals and scenery.
This film is avaliable for about £6.99 from amazon for the special 2 disc edition,i only have the single disc edition so cannot comment on the special features.
Id definatley recommend everyone should at least give this film a try everyoone i have shown it to has been blown away buy its sense of wonder and brutality.Do not let children watch this unless you want many sleepless nights due to the graphic scenes of the film
Running time 118 minutes
I have now seen four Guillermo Del Torro films, but 'Pans Labyrinth' is by far the most hard-hitting and brilliant of any of them (with 'The Orphanage' a close second). Having said that, dispite having bought it over a year ago, I have not watched it more than once - this is a film best taken in small doses, because it will take you a while to recover from it.
The story centres around a young girl, whose mother is married to a vicious General in the Spanish post civil war period. Lamenting the death and replacement of her natural father, disliking her new father who in turn violently dislikes her, and disturbed by the post-war violence occuring around her, Ofelia begins to retreat into a fantasy world of fairy-tales. This world, however, is often as horrifying and violent as the real world she attempts to escape from, so that the story ricochettes from one crisis to anther as Ofelia desperately attempts to seize control of at least one of her worlds.
In the first place, this film is a feast for the eyes. It is full of beautiful shots, beautiful images, and beautiful scenes, even when depicting the most horrific incidents. It has the true mark of the gothic which characterises Del Toro's best work. It is also, however, extremely graphic, and therefore not for the faint of heart. Untimately the story it tells is both beautiful and upliftying, and tragic and gut-wrenchingly sad. Like Ofelia herself, the viewer is unable to escape completely into the fairytale Del Torro offers, but must also suffer the pains of the real world her depicts.
If you are unsure about watching a challenging film in subtitles, don't be - I found that I was so engrossed in the story, I hardly noticed the subtitles at all. But I would suggest watching it with someone soothing to hold your hand, and a big box of tissues.
Pans Labyrinth came out back in October of 2006. At first it was not really that big a hit, a Spanish film without much hype. Since then thought the film has gone from strength to strength. A beautiful bewitching and dark fairy tale. This film is pure magic!
Pans Labyrinth tells the story of a young girl named Ofelia. She is a girl who loves to read and has a wonderful imagination. She needs this to escape from her life as she has just been taken away to live with her pregnant mother and her evil step father in the Spanish mountains. On the journey there Ofelia sees a stick insect that she thinks is a fairy and this little fairy leads her into all kinds of adventures. The fairy gives Ofelia various tasks she must complete and the adventures begin.
This is not a childrens film in any sense. There is some strong language and so really strong viloence. At one point the violence is quite sickening to be honest. The film is very dark and feels quite threatening I suppose you could say its quite scary in places.
The film in not in English so there are subtitles. But do not let this put you off as it really does not effect the film at all, it's still really easy to follow and its more of a visual film anyway.
I love the way this is filmed, its so beautiful and haunting. There is some real good imagination behind this and an excellent soundtrack to back up the great effects and story.
Guillermo del Toro is the director and writer if this film, I must admit have never heard of the guy or seen any of his other films, but if this is anything to go by they may well be worth having a look.
This film actually managed to win three oscars which really shows how classic a film this is. There were countless other awards and nominations that this film recieved.
The film itself runs for 119 minutes which I suppose is quite a long time, but the film really moves at a fast pace and you do not feel like you have been sat there for two hours at the end of it! There is plenty to keep the viewer interested.
The film is rated as a 15 and as I mentioned earlier there is some very strong content in this in the form of language and violence. This is not a childrens film despite the fact that it is a fairy tale.
The DVD is packed with extras including things like trailers, commentaries and other things. But if you buy this it should really be for the film itself and not the extras.
This is a truely wonderful film. Something that really took me by surprise and impressed me. One you really must watch!!