Pan’s Labyrinth – A Film Review

Pan’s Labyrinth – A Film Review

 I rated this film 8/10 on IMDB.

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, this is dark fantasy film which focuses on the life of a young girl name Ofelia, played by Ivana Baquero, and how her life is turned upside down when she moves in with her (evil) stepfather, Captain Vidal (played brilliantly by Sergi López), during the Spanish Civil War. Although it embodies elements of a fairy tale, this film is certainly not for children. It addresses dark realities and includes gore induced scenes with frankly quite terrifying characters. It also transgresses and blurs the lines between fantasy and reality when she meets the ‘fauno’ and is led on a quest to save her ill mother and herself.

Del Toro cleverly and slowly intertwines both plots from the fantasy and reality in that Ofelia has to face abuse from Vidal as well as the ‘Pale Man’, and also is forced to make choices that affect both of her ‘worlds’. They both equal in terrorising anyone they meet, so I can’t help but feel that Del Toro purposefully created a parallel between the characters.

In terms of mise-en-scene, Del Toro has taken into account every single shot. The use of colour to create ambiance and intensity has also been thoroughly thought through, as shown below – 

The use of blue tinting creates a cold and dark atmosphere, this in turn contrasts the colour red and intensifies it. In terms of composition, the director has used long shots and low angles in many scenes involving characters such as the Pale Man, in order to exaggerate his stature and make him more terrifying – 

By using this technique shown above, the hand is intensified and it is literally shoved in the viewers face, hence creating a climatic scene. The editing of this film is extremely interesting and note-worthy, as it blurs what is reality and Ofelia’s imagination. It integrates both plot lines in order to make the fantastical elements a reality to such an extent that me as the viewer did not even stop to question, is this real?

Another element in which made this film a success, is the characters. The tyrannical Captain Vidal, is evil yet he is portrayed in a manner in which the audience can understand him and his approach. Also, Maribel Verdu as the housekeeper is a perfect portrayal of the female icon challenging patriarchy, and immediately creates a likability about her.

Overall, this film should go down as one of the greatest in cinematographic history. This take on the children’s fairy tale and turning it into something only adults can indulge, accompanied by Ofelia’s ‘Alice In Wonderland’ approach to these dark and mysterious lands create such an innovative and inviting film that the viewers can really get stuck into.


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