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This is the way fairy tales used to be -- before they got bleached, pressed, and de-linted by half-wits trying to protect tender ears. Before they got Disney-fied. Sure, there's violence here, some of it shocking, but none of it gratuitous. Could it give a kid nightmares? Maybe. But given today's pablum stories, maybe it's about time.
Pan's Labyrinth takes us directly into the subconscious, and into the storyforms that infuse all of the great myths, fairy tales, and religions. It's a rich and satisfying stew of symbolism, mystery, and redemption. Multilayered and inspiring, it's a film you'll want to see again. It's hard not to gush, but it's been so long since a movie this good has made it into the quasi-mainstream.
What makes Pan's Labyrinth most effective is it's juxtaposition of harsh "reality" and the mysterious world that lives side by side with it. The heroine, a young girl who may carry a magical seed of immortality (the soul of god's only child who once ventured into the world of men, suffered, and died long ago), is contacted by shapeshifting fairies who lead her to a faun (much like the mythological Pan) who says she may reclaim her throne and escape the mortal world by performing three tasks. The faun in Pan's Labyrinth is every bit as complex as the mythological Pan, a creature perhaps older than the gods themselves. There's something sly, and perhaps even sexual about this elegant and almost alien faun, as he represents the forces at play inside this sensitive young girl. In fact, like every good fairy tale, all of the strange, wondrous, and chilling creatures represent facets of the subconscious, including baby-eating ghouls, flitting fairies, and gluttonous toads.
Pan's Labyrinth is a commentary on the resiliency and power of the human imagination, and takes us to the place where dreams are spun and the great heroic tale of overcoming (of the self and the world) takes root. That spark of the divine in all of us -- or at least the hope of it -- powers the great story of our lives, and we need tales like this to remind of us of the magic and transformative power of story telling. In the flickering light of the theater, like some great hearth around which we've gathered, Pan's Labyrinth took me back to my childhood, and made me think of so many of the great stories I'd read over the years -- of demonic dogs with saucer-sized eyes, of child-stealing trolls, and evil stepmothers. And, finally, of the champions who venture down into those great cracks in the Earth, where the roots of mythic trees twist and wind and the greatest treasure of all can be found: the noble, heroic, and undying spirit that lies within us.
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Showing 1-10 of 94 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 4, 2007, 1:43:04 PM PDT
Leigh Fitzpatrick says:
What a great, poetic review..........
Posted on Apr 7, 2007, 7:11:01 PM PDT
Bravo! An excellent review! What a great writer you are.
Posted on Apr 9, 2007, 9:15:39 AM PDT
Maine Writer says:
Thank you so much for the kind words.
Posted on May 1, 2007, 10:51:27 PM PDT
Matthew R. Stoner says:
Awesome review! I loved this movie, and I can't think of a better review to represent it tnan yours.
Posted on May 2, 2007, 9:18:20 AM PDT
Robby's Grampa says:
Posted on May 2, 2007, 11:40:25 AM PDT
Charles Church says:
What a wonderful review. I've never seen one so well written from a consumer standpoint.
Posted on May 4, 2007, 6:54:15 AM PDT
J. Czajkowski says:
In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2007, 9:54:52 PM PDT
I feel sorry for Robby, seeing how close-minded his Grampa is. I hope he enjoys Wild Hogs and Shrek the T(hi)urd.
Hollywood couldn't do this one justice and I hope it never tries. If you can't be bothered to watch films because of a little light reading, it's your great loss.
In reply to an earlier post on May 9, 2007, 12:40:50 PM PDT
Considering the story is set in Spain it gives the over all experience more authenticity for the dialogue to be in spanish. If you're literate it shouldn't be a problem. It's a little pointless to me for all those involved in a movie to go out of their way to make everything period correct, but don't concern themselves with the dialogue being period correct. This movie does a fantastic job of not only having the correct language but also the correct vernacular for the time period. All things that make good movies truly great.
In reply to an earlier post on May 14, 2007, 8:37:46 PM PDT
S. Kinzel says:
I think dubbing takes away from the film - any film for that matter. I would much rather hear it in its native tongue and read in English. Reading keeps the mind crisp, further, I think making such a comment as 'if ya want to sell it...English please' is a tad on the lazy, and dare I say, ignorant side.