May 30, 2007
Movie Review: Pan's Labyrinth
Some films, and stories in general for that matter, can connect the watcher with something deeper in(than) themselves, and in that way enable you to transcend every-day reality. That is perhaps the purpose of all stories; certainly all of the ones that have been found interesting. Pan's Labyrinth is like nothing I've ever seen. And somehow it measures up to everything you or I might have dreamed. I truly regret missing my opportunity to see it on the big screen.
I can't rightfully tell you much about the story, to do so would be an injustice, I think, for anyone who has not and was still considering watching it. I can say that it's a fairytale about a young girl who experiences both horrific real experiences and magical ones, hence the fantasy aspect; and that it is set in the Spanish Civil War.
This is no child's fairytale in the typical sense--It was made without any intention of qualifying as what usually passes as acceptable for children. There are scenes of violence as shocking as any ever shown on a movie screen, and images as frightening as the scariest I've ever seen. It's as thematically dark anything I've ever read or seen. But it's still a fairytale, and in that respect, although it's not meant for children, it is something a child could dream of, even as unpleasant and devastatingly graphic as it is. And so while it's not something I would ever suggest for a child to watch, it's obvious this is the product of a filmmaker who experienced a very imaginative childhood. With the blurring of reality and fantasy it reminds me of the writing of Neil Gaiman, except without all the witty humor, and explicitly more grizzly.
A casual glance at this movie and someone might think it's just about magic. But it is in fact about something much more important than magic; something that, it has occurred to me, is possibly one of the most important characteristics of humanity--Imagination.
My rating: Just about perfect.