Guillermo del Toro is a unique visionary in the annals of cinema. The best way I can describe his style would be if Tim Burton grew up in a much darker, more twisted world, wherever that may be. Evidently, Mexico brings about a special aesthetic in its filmmakers, and none more so than del Toro, who until this was mostly known for his modestly blockbuster dark flicks such as Blade II, Mimic, and Hellboy. He truly popped onto the international scene with this release, Pan’s Labyrinth, and it is this that cemented del Toro’s name as one to watch for.
This film is mostly about imagination, the vivid imagination of a young girl in a complicated world where she doesn’t seem to fully fit in. It’s also about the imagination of the filmmakers, del Toro and everyone else involved that bring this modern day fairy tale into brilliant life. I can’t even begin to imagine the effort and the tenacity it took to accomplish everything that this film puts on screen, but I am happy to enjoy the fruits of their labor, even repeatedly; I’ve seen this film several times, and each time I get as much out of it as the first. I especially loved the character of the stepfather, the Captain; he made a fit and perfect villain, cold and cruel with an icy touch whenever he appeared – you really loved to hate his character, the hallmark of a great screen villain for me.
All in all, this is a great flick to pop in on a dark and dreary night and ease the troubles away with. It may not exactly have the happiest ending, but that all really depends on your outlook; the ending can be taken either one way or the other, and no which way is more correct; that’s how the film succeeds so well. This is a fable, a parable for an age when such stories might seem antiquated, but del Toro shows us that they can be just as influential and entertaining as the days of old, provided they have the proper presentation and setting. Pan’s Labyrinth is just such a fine setting.
Arbitrary Rating: 9/10