DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Monday, November 27, 2006

El Laberinto del Fauno / Pan’s Labyrinth Reviewed...

El Laberinto del Fauno / Pan’s Labyrinth (15)
Guillermo del Toro

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Me? I've had so many names... Old names that only the wind and the trees can pronounce. I am the mountain, the forest and the earth. I am... I am a
faun . Your most humble servant… You can also call me Pan, and I dare you to step into my twisted dark world.

If your experience of fauns begins and ends with the slightly mischievous Mr Tumnus from Narnia, prepare to meet something far more fearsome, more majestic and altogether more devious… Guillermo del Toro’s faun lord is a creature of wonder, the mighty ‘Pan’ of legend - Faunus, another version of his name, whose genealogy is so varied that it must lie buried deep in mythic time. More revered than other nature spirits, Pan appears in tales to be older than the Olympians, he is accreditted as giving Artemis her hunting dogs and teaching the secret of prophecy to Apollo. But here he is concerned with young girl – Ofelia played with conviction by Ivana Baquero. Ofelia is a tortured soul, prone to wishing to escape into fantasy through her love of books into a malevolent dark underworld.
It could be that she is a long lost princess, one prophesised to return to her own world of magic, generations after losing her spirit in the human world but in order to regain entry to her rightful place she must pass three tests set by Pan… Three disturbing and arduous tasks that many brave men would flinch from…

Director Del ‘Hellboy’ Toro revisits many of the themes of his earlier work - Espinazo del diablo / The Devil’s Backbone, set several years after that film it again features the fall out of bloody civil war in Spain. In the midst of the upheaval a vicious commander named Captain Vidal (played with pure malice by Sergi López) has married Ofelia’s mother and is desperate for the son she is carrying to be born so as to extend his line. Vidal is a sadistic fascist of the worst kind, the sort to torture and shoot first, ask questions later, he has casualness to inflicting pain and ending life that puts his very humanity at question.

But Pan’s Labyrinth is all about monsters – be it the vile toad of the first task or the insect life faeries – up to the Pale Man who is a creation so demonically gruesome that he make a
Cenobite (angels to some, demons to others) cower before his countenance.

Enough about the plot though – this is a film which you have to let wash over you and not knowing too much about it in advance will really aid your experience. It’s freaky, dark and moving – certainly not for kids or anyone of nervous disposition, but if you enjoy your fantasy from the more macabre end of the scale… enter the labyrinth and sample the bleak delights it holds…

Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):

Action ööö - the war scenes aren't great, the fantasy ones are
Laughs ö – nope, not that sort of film
Horror öööö – freakishly grim in places
Babes öö – too young or too plain...

Overall ööö1/2 (great in parts but not fully successful)

"do the words 'I wouldn't go in there if I were you' mean anything? "

Darkmatters:H O M E
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