Pin It
Mexican filmmakers may be doing for fantasy in film what Japan once did for animation.

Pan's Labyrinth 

Mexican filmmakers may be doing for fantasy in film what Japan once did for animation. Just weeks after Alfonso Cuaron's visually stunning Children of Men comes Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno), easily one of the best fantasy films of the last five years, and one of the year's best films, period.

Like the 1973 film The Spirit of the Beehive, Pan shows a small child's fantasy life against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War. It chronicles the tale of Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a child who finds herself summoned into a fantasy world by Pan (Doug Jones, Abe Sapien in Del Toro's Hellboy), a faun whose gray skin and raspy voice bear more resemblance to Frank the Bunny from Donnie Darko than that nice Mr. Tummus from The Chronicles of Narnia. As strange and threatening as this world is, the real world is just as nasty, as Ofelia is living in a house full of Francoist soldiers trying to smoke out rebels from the nearby woods. Their leader is Ofelia's stepfather Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez), the sort of sadistic bastard who'll shoot someone, then pump more bullets in for good measure. And soon, both worlds threaten to erupt into violence.

Pan's premise has been done before in both film and prose, but Del Toro succeeds in making both the real and fantasy worlds equally compelling, anchored by the performances of Jones, Baquero and Lopez. Jones deserves special credit for his double duty as Pan and the Pale Man, a terrifying creation sure to become a favorite at Goth costume contests. Though there's some absolutely brutal violence (this film is not, repeat not, for children), it's done in service of the story, and the two worlds come together in a way that you don't quite expect. Pan's Labyrinth is a riveting experience, and hopefully a sign of more great fantasy films from Mexico in the future.

  • Mexican filmmakers may be doing for fantasy in film what Japan once did for animation.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Spotlight

  • Paul Newman, 1925-2008

    A hero we could believe in
    • Oct 3, 2008
  • Remembering director Sydney Pollack, and his visit to Durham

    Pollack's death Monday, May 26, at age 73 represents the passing of a true film raconteur and accomplished director.
    • May 27, 2008
  • Om Shanti Om

    Om Shanti Om delivers the glitter and glamour, the comedy and thrills, religion and the supernatural, mother love, high fashion and eye-popping  production numbers in proper masala fashion.
    • Nov 14, 2007
  • More »

More by Zack Smith

Facebook Activity

Twitter Activity

Comments

I find this rather interesting ..My name is Gary E.Queen .I am a grand son of Thomas H. Queen,Descendant ,Of …

by Gary E. Queen on The Queen Family (Spotlight)

"He was the picture of a man comfortable in his own skin and celebrity." I never met Pollack, but I …

by rwcass on Remembering director Sydney Pollack, and his visit to Durham (Spotlight)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

© 2014 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation