Movie Bite: Pan’s Labyrinth

email 12 March 2009

I completed watching Pan’s Labyrinth last night.  I meant to ask my supervisor at work the translation of “Fauna”, because I don’t think it should be translated as Pan’s Labyrinth, but rather The Faun’s Labyrinth.  Probably another case of American marketing taking over, as with Ladri di Biciclette as I discussed last time.

Nevertheless, this is a wonderful film.  I feel for me that it has a target audience of a mature child, say the age of the protagonist, a young heroine named Ofelia.  It takes place in 1944 Spain, and has 2 stories running in parallel: One of a mystical, magical world that Ofelia begins to journey into, and the other of the adult world of Spain in lingering civil conflict toward the end of WWII.  I would not say this is a masterpiece, though it is a masterfully made film in many regards.  It flows along with balletic grace, and is a beautiful film to watch.

The best definition I have for “magnificent” is that which Laura offered for Mulholland Dr.:

We just finished watching it. Magnificent movie. Neither one of us can even begin to sort it out. Maybe we’re not supposed to? Seems like a kaleidoscope that has people’s minds as the colored chips.

I love this ‘movie bite’ from Laura.  I would say that Pan’s Labyrinth has a quiet magnificence.  It is not over the top or bombastic in any way — Oliver Stone’s great Natural Born Killers is the best example I have of that type of film — but it has a quiet, understated, but effective magnificence.

The plot works for us adults too — it is interstingly not quite a young child’s story nor a worldly adult’s.  But I highly recommend it, it is a fantastic film in the spirit of Alice in Wonderland and The Wizzard of Oz, though unique from those two.  The big drawback for non-Spanish speaking children such as Thomas is that it is in Spanish, and there is some narration and diaglouge necessary for understanding the story.

This was my first rental on Blu-Ray, which made the viewing experience a little nicer.  I did check out a little of the enhanced visual commentary.  But it will be fine with whatever setup you have.  The one down-note for me was the musical theme employed throughout.  It was actually just fine, but not particularly inspired.  I think a truly inspired musical score could have really lifted this film to new heights.

Again, recommended; Laura, Rebecca:  I think you might really like this if you’re in the mood for a fantasy-type movie.  A good one to check out the preview to see how far up the queue you want to place it.

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