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Pan's Labyrinth

Tom's Recommended Film of the Week

El Laberinto del Fauno
or Pan's Labyrinth

Guillermo del Toro
has made a number of stiking films, most in the field of horror, most not mainstream enough for me to recommend to others. Hellboy pushed him out to a wider audience, but with Pan's Labyrinth he has blended his style into a more broadly entertaining film for mass audiences. By telling a fairy tale and basing it in a vibrant historical setting, Toro has made use of the mirror image of joys and horrors between our real world and the fantasy world.

Toro's choice of post Spanish Civil War setting provides an ideal offset to the often unforgiving world of the fairy tale. We are shown evil and good on both sides of the looking glass and Toro, through some beautiful transitions, weaves a fluid tapestry of entertainment using the two parallel story lines. Ivana Baquero is wonderful as the central character Ofelia and Maribel Verdu does a great job of propelling the plot as Mercedes the housekeeper. Sergi Lopez provides some scenes of cold hearted graphic violence, which gained the film an R rating, but do seem necessary to the building of the plot tension, just be prepared.

Nominated in six Oscar categories, Pan's Labyrinth won for Cinematography, Art Direction and Makeup, all deserving. The film garnered nominations for Screenplay and Original Music Score, and though it did not win in those categories, I thought both were essential elements in the films' fine construction.