May 18, 2007
Pan's Labrynth
Just finished watching this movie and I am... emotionally drained.

Everything about this movie is amazing.

Let me say that again: Everything about this movie is amazing. Visually stunning special effects, fantastic actors (especially the girl who play Ofelia), and such a finely wrought story!

Pan's Labyrinth is set in the waning days of WWII Spain. A contingent of Spanish soldiers has been deployed to some remote part of the country to seek out and eradicate the rebels hiding there. The cruel Captain's new wife, heavy with child, and her daughter from her first marriage travel to the countryside to be with him. The story focuses on Ofelia, the bookish and sensitive step-daughter.

From there, it is a story-within-a-story. One the one hand, there is the "real life" story of the struggle to survive a brutal time in a brutal place underneath the thumb of tyrant. The writers ran the risk of making the Captain a one dimensional character, yet there are moments that cancel out this risk. He is a man who is perhaps living up to the legend that is his own father, the General, and yearns for a son to carry on his family name. He is obsessive to the point of being compulsive--he shaves daily, checks time incessantly, etc.--and one can't help but wonder if he's a product of his environment.

The counter story is one of pure fantasy. The daughter of the King of the Underworld leaves the kingdom one day, enters the light of the world above and forgets who she is. Ofelia is convinced, through a meeting with a faun (aka Pan) that she is this long lost Princess. Through a series of tasks she must prove her worth as the Princess. These stories often juxtapose with the action in the "real world" and the two worlds essentially collide at the end in a bittersweet manner.

I think that perhaps one of the most important messages of the movie is right on this poster: Innocence has a power evil cannot imagine. Ofelia is innocent and she's living during an especially evil point in history. Her belief in something as pure as love. There's also a really strong message about the power of words. Ofelia reads... a lot. And she lives, in a sense, in a world that is created from what she has read. There's also a really powerful scene where her mother tells her to call the Captain her father, reminding her that it is only a word. This clearly is not the case as she identifies with a storybook character and embarks on a mythical journey to return to her real father. At another point, the Captain interrogates a captured rebel and gives this whole big speech about how torture is the only method by which the rebel can "convince" him that his confession is true. And many, many other scenes. Words have power, people, words have power. How you choose to use that power, and to what end, is up to you.

I won't tell you how it ends. I highly recommend you see it yourself. I promise you, you won't regret it.

posted by Tina at 10:52 PM
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