Thursday, March 5, 2009
Pan's Labyrinth. A
Guillermo del Toro has made good movies in his career. Nothing classic, but very respectable, close to even terrific, movies. This however does not mean that he isn't a great director. Del Toro is a great director, and every great director has a masterpiece. 'Pan's Labyrinth' is without a doubt Del Toro's. I've always loved the movie, well ever since it came out at least. A few weeks ago I was watching it and I was simply awed at how rich and colorful and beautiful the images were that I was seeing. Pan's Labyrinth' has to be one of the greatest looking movies of the modern cinema. Even if the film was 'just' visually mesmerizing I still would have enjoyed it immensely. But Del Toro gives us more. He gives a fantasy picture unlike any others because it tells a very real, and very daunting story, and it also gives us a completely separate fantasy world. It's like two movies in one. Normally we say that when a movie is too long. Here that's not the case. The movie begins with Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) driving to Carmen's new husband's house/fortress in Spain (the movie is set just after the Spanish Civil War in 1944. Franco would have been in complete control at the time). During this ride we discover that Ofelia has a love for fairy tales. Sergi Lopez plays the tyrannical Captain Vidal (Ofelia's stepfather) and Maribel Verdu plays Mercedes, the kind housekeeper who secretly brings medicine and food to the rebels (which include her brother Pedro). Now I'm not going to tell you any more that happens. You will have to watch it and find out. The images are extremely evocative, but you have to see them with your own eyes. Words can't describe the beauty of this film. As far as fantasies go, this is my favorite of the genre. It's better than 'Lord of the Rings,' it's better than 'Labyrinth' (with David Bowie) it's better than just about any fantasy ever made I think. It isn't just the visuals and the story that delight, though. It's the acting too. All of the actors here are tremendous even though their names may be unrecognizable. So what is there behind this movie? Well it gives us a wonderful portrait of the power of the imagination. It also gives a violent, but important picture of the villainous dictator's at the time. This is haunting, dark, sometimes even mystifying fairy tale that is so dead on in every area that we wonder: How did Del Torro do it?