Pan’s Labyrinth

‘Watched Pan’s Labyrinth at Vivocity today. I had been warned that it had elements of horror and fantasy, and that it was set during the Spanish Civil War.
Prior to this movie, my only exposure to the Spanish Civil War was going to the Musee Nationale Picasso in Paris half a year ago and looking at abstract paintings depicting the conflict, usually in a scene of desolation. I gathered the war had evoked a lot of anguish among the artistic community.
The show begins in a way that indicates what the ending will be – or does it? It then goes back to the beginning, when the girl and her mother travel to live with her new stepfather, a Fascist captain who could very much be equated to Hitler. Along the way, the little girl discovers an alternative world living parallel to the cruel, real world. She believes she has to perform a few missions to go back permanently to her fantasy world.
In real life, the rebels are consistently portrayed as the ‘good guys’ who can’t quite seem to get their act together most of the time. The fascists don’t come across as all evil as that seems to be the main occupation of their captain. Among the adults there is the constant theme of betrayal, a refusal to believe in miracles, and a sense of defeatism on both sides. For the child, there is the feeling of loneliness, helplessness, wanting to go back to her original home, and being unable to communicate her exact feelings to the adults.
In the fantasy world, she grapples with a huge, slimy frog and a monster with eyeballs in his palms who behaves like the beast in Jeepers Creepers. At some points I was thinking, “You foolish child! Why did you take the bait?” But then I realised everyone falls prey to the simplest of temptations. In fact the things that seems the most harmless and easy to get away with, are the most insidious of all.
I kind of expected what the ending would be like. Even with the violence, though, you would feel justice has been done.
This movie’s up for 6 Academy Awards. I don’t think it will sweep everything but perhaps it could be a strong contender for Best Foreign Film. It is not totally fantasy, like Lord of the Rings. It could be a ‘period drama’ but in the most recent sense, so I’m not sure how it will do in the Best Makeup and Art Direction categories. Best Original Score is a possibility as the main theme is very memorable, though that’s all I can remember. The cinematography was fine but there weren’t huge, vast landscapes because everyone was enclosed in a forest or labryinthe. As far as I could recall, there were no wide-angle shots (if that’s an important criteria).
It felt very much like Cave of the Golden Rose as it captured the fighting spirit, innocence and fragility of youth, in a fantasy world where you couldn’t be entirely sure who your allies were. In such desolate moments, you can’t blame her for escaping into her fantasy world and imagining ‘life is beautiful’.
Now, excuse me while I go and play some Second Life 😉
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  1. Walter

    Sigh, I wanted to watch Pan’s Labyrinth for the longest time but somehow just can’t find the time. It is the exact type of movie that I would love to watch. Maybe after I….err… whatever.

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