Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Pan's Labyrinth is such an audacious, ambitious and visually stunning film that it takes your breath away. Writer-director Guillermo Del Toro combines fantasy and reality so seamlessly that at the end, you don't know what the truth is but it hardly matters. Pan's Labyrinth is horrific and deeply disturbing but it also makes you believe in fairy tales.

The story is set in Spain in 1944. A young girl moves into a remote district with her pregnant mother who has remarried. The new husband is a sadistic military captain who is only interested in the heir that the mother will bear him. He brutally hunts down resistance fighters who are hiding in the forests around the army camp. Ofelia, a beautiful, intelligent girl who hates her stepfather, discovers a magical, subterranean kingdom. She is told that she is a lost princess who must successfully finish three tasks before she is allowed to return. These tasks bring her face to face with memorable creatures, including the Pale Man, who has eyes in the palms of his hands. The fantasy world is frightening but Del Toro firmly establishes that the worst villains here are human beings — the Captain's cruelty has no limits. Words however, cannot convey the magical textures and layers of this film. Pan's Labyrinth must be experienced.

TRIVIA: Director Guillermo Del Toro returned his entire salary for Pan's Labyrinth, because he insisted on creature effects that his financers considered too expensive.

(This piece was first published in Mumbai Mirror)

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