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PAN’S LABYRINTH

Director: GUILLERMO DEL TORO

SPAIN-MEXICO-U.S.A. • 2006 SUBTITLED • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 119 MIN


VERY FEW FILMS JUSTIFY THE DESCRIPTION ‘A WORK OF ART’; THIS MAGICAL ADULT FAIRY TALE FROM DIRECTOR GUILLERMO DEL TORO IS ONE OF THEM.
A companion piece to del Toro’s earlier film The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth blends a brutally realistic portrait of post-civil war Spain with a child’s-eye view of a fantastical realm ruled over by a towering goat-like figure. A film of exquisite beauty, savage truth and intense emotion, it explores—in a way that is at once playful and profound—the conflict between the anarchic freedom of creative imagination and the spirit-crushing conformity of fascism. This fascism is personified by Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez), to whom the twelve-year-old Ofelia (Ivana Baquero)— following the remarriage of her widowed mother Carmen —is now a frightened, reluctant stepdaughter. Isolated in a woodland cabin, where the captain and his soldiers are viciously mopping up the last pockets of Republican resistance, Ofelia escapes into a world ruled over by the teasing faun, for whom she performs tests involving a monstrous belching frog, a faceless Pale Man with eyeballs in the palms of his hands, and an ancient labyrinth. If she succeeds, Ofelia will prove she is a longlost princess, and will achieve immortality. Meanwhile, Ofelia’s frail, pregnant mother sickens by the day, threatening the macho captain’s all-consuming desire for a male heir. Conceived and executed with deep love and breathtaking technical genius, Pan’s Labyrinth is a heartbreaking film about the destruction of beauty and innocence by hateful philistinism; about stark moral choices; and about the life-affirming power of stories and our belief in them. —Nigel Floyd.

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