Pan’s Labyrinth / El Laberinto del Fauno (2006)

Starring: Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdu, Ariadna Gil, Doug Jones, Álex Angulo

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro

R. 115 mins

Artistically ambitious and absolutely breathtaking, Pan’s Labyrinth is one of the best films of the decade. Mexican filmmaker del Toro returns to his fantasy roots (Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone) with this drama set just after the Spanish Civil War. Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a mature and curious young girl, is forced to move to the countryside after her pregnant mother remarries the cruel army captain, Vidal (Sergi López). As her mother awaits the birth, Ofelia is left to her books and the mysterious landscape that surrounds them. One day, Ofelia stumbles upon a labyrinth in which she meets a magical faun named Pan (Doug Jones) who is convinced that she is the lost princess of an underground kingdom. While the war rages on around her, Ofelia completes various quests to regain her title and return to her family down below. The story is spellbinding and brutally violent which garners it the “adult fairytale” description but it’s so much more than that. Del Toro is fiercely committed to this project and it shows in his technical accomplishments paired with great moral depth. This is a film so complex and so fully-realized that it’s hard to criticize something so special and personally meaningful. Combining elements of Alice in Wonderland, Narnia and Harry Potter in this evocative and brutal fairytale is the recipe towards a multifaceted fairytale worth watching again and again – * * * * *

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