Written and Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Starring Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Doug Jones
A WITH BOTH HANDS MINI-REVIEW
This was my first Blu-ray movie, we recently got a Netflix subscription so as to avoid having to buy Blu-rays. The movie was beautifully done, but heartbreakingly sad, and shockingly brutal. Pan's Labyrinth is set in the immediate aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, when the maquis were hiding in the mountains of Spain to continue to fight against Franco's regime.
Looking back, we of course know that the maquis struggle is doomed, but this movie does a good job of romanticizing their struggle. The Spanish Civil War and its aftermath were terrible. The brutality of the war is legendary, immortalized by Picasso's Guernica and other artistic homages. That brutality is on display here in the character of Captain Vidal. He is pointlessly, ruthlessly brutal to everyone. It was truly difficult to watch him.
Del Toro got the fairy-tale just right, down to the essential element of seemingly arbitrary rules that must be followed on any quest. The Faun at the center of the labyrinth has just the right combination of wonder and menace that such a creature should really display. Three quests of increasing difficulty must be completed before the full moon, and so on. Just so.
I would recommend this movie, with the caveat that its depiction of war is quite gruesome.