Saturday, June 02, 2007

Review: Pan's Labyrinth

A long time ago, in the underground realm, where there are no lies or pain, there lived a Princess who dreamed of the human world. She dreamed of blue skies, soft breeze, and sunshine. One day, eluding her keepers, the Princess escaped. Once outside, the brightness blinded her and erased every trace of the past from her memory. She forgot who she was and where she came from. Her body suffered cold, sickness, and pain. Eventually, she died. However, her father, the King, always knew that the Princess' soul would return, perhaps in another body, in another place, at another time.

And he would wait for her, until he drew his last breath, until the world stopped turning...

I watched Pan's Labyrinth knowing only that it won multiple Oscars (Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Make Up). And, that it was not a kid's movie and would be scary.

This movie was absolutely beautiful and its elements churned in our minds all night. I wish it were a book I had read first, since I find it easier to digest dark topics of fantasy and violence on page than on screen.

The story is elegantly made as it juxtaposes Facist Spain in 1944 with an escapist world of fairies and fauns. It is definitely violent and I shall admit to the blogosphere that I had the blanket over my head during some torture scenes and begged my husband to fast forward. Yet, it was the violence of the human world that was more horrifying than the mystical creatures. The true monsters were not imagined.

Ofelia, played by Ivana Baquero, was captivating. Her character was to be simple, but wise beyond her years. And, the young actress really brought this forth.

I loved Maribel Verdu who had played Luisa in "Y Tu Mama Tambien" (my review) and she was so powerful in this film.

I had heard comedians asking what's up with the imagery of genitalia in the poster. After seeing the movie, there is a strong current of birth, death, and rebirth. All of these symbols tie together and they come in different ways. So, yes, it is quite obvious motif as she walks through channels, holes and other symbols of birthing.

There's another theme of trust in a time of war and fantasies. Who do you trust? Do you trust a mother to always be there for you? A husband? A doctor? A faun?
Can you trust a Princess to follow directions and not her natural impulses?

This movie takes magical elements "Harry Potter", the dark danger of "LOTR" and douses them with "The Diary of Anne Frank."

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