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Pan's Labyrinth


Last weekend we finally watched Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. I say "finally" because Mark Kermode has been singing its praises ever since it was released - he claims it's one of the best movies ever and, having bought the DVD, I kept putting off watching it because I was worried we would be disappointed.

We weren't.

It's a stunning piece of work. It's not often that Beth and I talk about films much afterwards: she says I over analyse, but I think for both of us it was a movie that left us with a lot to think about and we were still talking about it some days later.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you a bit about the film in case you've not seen it yet. It's set in civil war Spain in 1944 and it's in Spanish, with sub-titles. Twelve year old Ofelia and her mother, now pregnant by her second husband, the evil bastard Captain Vidal are in the mountains. While Vidal battles with the revolutionaries Ofelia finds an alternative universe which exists underground and a faun who lives there. To save her mother she has to undertake three tasks which mirror events happening in the real world around her.

It's a dark tale and quite gruesome at times: one scene in particular, where Vidal kills a man by repeatedly smashing a bottle into his face, is probably the worst although the implicit brutality in the torture scenes are hard too.

But there's a beauty to it too and at the end of it you're left trying to decide whether Ofelia's world is real or only exists in her head. Del Toro, who not only directed but also wrote the story, leaves that up to you to decide.

So my only regret is that we didn't see it sooner. And if you've not seen it yet then do. I think you'll love it.

Tags: films Written 01/09/08

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