An All-Too-Violent Fairy Tale
Starring: Ariadna Gil, Ivana Baquero,
Sergi Lopez, and Maribel Verdu
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Runtime: 120 minutes
Distributor: Picturehouse Films/New Line
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Executive Producer: Belén Atienza and Elena
Producer: Álvaro Augustín, Alfonso
Cuarón, Bertha Navarro,
Guillermo del Toro, and Frida
Writer: Guillermo del Toro
Address Comments To:Bob Berney, President
(A division of New Line Cinema)
597 Fifth Avenue, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 303-1700
Fax: (212) 421-1163
The story begins as young Ofelia and her pregnant mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil), travel to stay with Captain Vidal at his military outpost. Carmen’s pregnancy has been difficult and the Captain wants to make sure that she is with him when the baby is delivered, not because he cares for Carmen but because he wants to make sure the baby is safe – a baby the Captain hopes is a strong male heir.
Once at the outpost, Ofelia quickly sees the Captain’s cruelty as he mercilessly hunts down and tortures a band of rebels who fight against his Fascist regime. Ever one to read fairy-tales and fables, Ofelia must rely on her imagination to escape the horrible situation in which she finds herself. She even imagines that a praying mantis she sees is a fairy. Soon, however, the line between her imagination and reality blurs as the mantis changes into an actual fairy and leads Ofelia to the labyrinth of the ageless Pan, a legendary faun.
Pan tells Ofelia that she is actually the reincarnated soul of the princess daughter of the King of the Underworld. He says that she is royal blood. In order to open the portal to reunite with her father, she must perform three tasks. So, Ofelia sets out on her quest.
Ofelia rushes to not only reunite with her immortal father but also to save her sick mother and her unborn brother. Among the tasks she must do are destroy an evil giant toad under a magical tree and retrieve a mystical knife from the chamber of a horrific creature.
Deftly weaving together and paralleling both Ofelia’s mythical adventure and the political war zone of Captain Vidal, PAN’S LABYRINTH is extremely well made. The writer/director, Guillermo del Toro, creates a dark world with stunning imagery that is both fantastic and, regrettably, all-too-sadistically realistic.
Relying too heavily on depicted violence rather than implied violence, the movie ceases to be imaginative and creative. It becomes a gross second-place substitute of what could have been a really enjoyable movie for adult moviegoers. The stronger and more media-wise choice would have been to leave more to the audience’s imagination. Unhappily, rather than creatively implying Captain Vidal’s cruelty and lack of human compassion, the director instead bludgeons viewers with graphic imagery (much like Captain Vidal). This seems contradictory and hypocritical. The movie also contains elements of false religion as well as some strong language.
PAN’S LABYRINTH is garnering quite a bit of “award buzz” from a number of Hollywood critics. Some are proclaiming this to be a glorious fairytale for adults. However, media-wise people of faith should be encouraged that, although this foreign movie may gain the temporary rewards and applauds of men, the movie's mixed pagan worldview and violent depictions of life without the hope of Christ have dire eternal ramifications.
People of faith and values should spend their time and creative resources elsewhere by supporting and dwelling on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable . . .” (Philippians 4:8, CSB).
PAN'S LABYRINTH deftly weaves together Ofelia’s mythical adventure and the political war zone of Captain Vidal. It is extremely well made. The writer/director, Guillermo del Toro, creates a dark world with stunning imagery that is both fantastic and, regrettably, all-too-sadistically realistic. He relies too heavily on depicting the graphic violence that he is protesting. Thus, he bludgeons viewers with graphic imagery, much like the movie's villain. PAN’S LABYRINTH also contains elements of false religion as well as strong foul language.