"An All-Too-Violent Fairy Tale"
What You Need To Know:
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.
(PaPaPa, FRFRFR, ACap, Co, C, B, LL, VVV, N, A, D, MM) Very strong mixed pagan worldview with elements of myth and fantasy as well as false religion (including reincarnation) and anti-capitalist, communist, and Christian elements, with political elements including the setting for the story is the 1944 post-War fascist repression in Northern Spain (although the fascists are not glamorized), some elements of demonizing freedom fighters as fascists spout propaganda to a group of local farmers, and one statement by a priest that God has already saved the souls of a group of military combatants and a Catholic funeral is shown; 20 obscenities (four of which are "f" words) and two profanities; heavy, graphic violence includes a young girl has a bloody nose, a man grips the little girl’s arm very hard, military captain uses a bottle to crush the skull of a prisoner, captain shoots another prisoner, many soldiers are shot in graphic battle sequences, prisoners are shot point blank execution style, a giant mythical toad explodes, man’s leg needs to be amputated and a doctor begins to saw into it, a horrific mythical creature is shown with his eyes placed in his hands and depictions of him eating children are painted all over the walls, creature viciously eats the heads off two fairies, young girl bites her finger to give drops of blood to a root, Captain shoots a wounded soldier through his hand, torture implied and the aftermath of the torture is seen as the tortured man is disfigured and bloody, doctor assists in the tortured man’s mercy killing by giving him a lethal dose in order to put him out of his misery, Captain shoots the doctor in the back, a pregnant woman bleeds profusely during child birth, Captain slaps the little girl, a woman stabs a man in the back, in his shoulder, and she slices open his cheek with a knife, soldiers are shot off their horses, wounded man stitches up his sliced-open cheek, Captain shoots the little girl, and a man is shot in the face and dies; no sexuality; brief naturalistic upper shoulder nudity of little girl in the bath tub although nothing sensual; some hard alcohol use as wounded men drink to numb their pain and alcohol is drank at a dinner party; smoking in several scenes; and, miscellaneous immorality includes Captain lies to people, people have lottery tickets, stealing, and rebellion against authority.
PAN’S LABYRINTH is a mythical fantasy set in the 1944 Post-War Fascist repression in Spain. It is the story of Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a young girl who sets out on a mythical adventure while living under the harsh hand of her stepfather, the villainous Captain Vidal (Sergi López).
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).