Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth was released in 2006 and went on to receive critical acclaim and numerous awards, including three Oscars. From the very first scenes in the movie, it becomes clear why it generated such response. Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, and starring Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil and Sergi Lopez, Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark and magical tale of one girl’s escape into the imaginary world.
Pan’s Labyrinth is set in 1944 fascist Spain. Young Ofelia and her pregnant mother come to live in the country with Captain Vidal, Ofelia’s new stepfather. The Captain is fighting against the rebels who are hiding in the woods. In the meantime, Ofelia encounters magic everywhere around her, including the Faun who lives in the old labyrinth in the forest. The Faun reveals to Ofelia that she is the lost princess Moanna, and that she must complete the three tasks before the full moon, so that she can return to the magical underworld. As Ofelia gets deeper into the world of fairies and the Faun, the real and the magical become hard to separate, leading to a powerful finale.
I absolutely have to point out the music in Pan’s Labyrinth. From the simple and haunting lullaby, reappearing throughout the whole movie in different variations, to the more expansive sound of the important dramatic scenes, composer Javier Navarrete created a truly magical score. The thoughtful choice of colors for the certain scenes adds even more to the atmosphere and, combined with music, creates an unforgettable experience. The “real” world is represented in normal way, with blue and gray colors dominating, while the magical world is bright with colors, especially with the tones of gold. The real and the magical constantly intertwine, making you question if there is any line between the two at all. The great production value and meticulously designed sets are definitely an important part of the movie’s success.
Even though the supporting cast is exceptional, the main focus is still on Ivana Baquero. It is very easy to sympathize with her Ofelia – she is caught in the middle of a violent period in Spain, as well as the drastic changes in her family, with her mother expecting Captain Vidal’s child. Sergi Lopez as the Captain creates an unforgettable character, ruthless and inhumanly precise about everything he does. Maribel Verdu’s Mercedes is a very layered, three-dimensional character, and I grew especially fond of the bond Ofelia and Mercedes developed. And of course, the Faun is a fascinating creature to watch, yet at the same time, you can’t be completely sure of his motives.
The dark and imaginative vision of Guillermo del Toro combined with memorable performances create a truly powerful tale of escape.