Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth ★★★★½

I never gave much thought to why I hated the fantasy genre before today. You know those things that you always say you hate which becomes so ingrained in your mind that you can't come up with a proper explanation for why you hate that particular thing? The fantasy genre was one of those things for me. I realized today that I hated the fantasy genre because I was always in a hurry to grow up. A big part of that had to do with necessity, but then the hurry to grow up became apart of my identity.

For Ofelia, the hurry to grow up is exacerbated by war in a fascist Spain, but that does not mean she will let go of the magic that easily. The first time that Ofelia sees an image in the book that the Faun gives her, my first thought was regarding the Rorschach test. In case you don't know what a Rorschach test is, the basic premise is this: subjects are given a series of inkblots to interpret. Therapists then utilize these interpretations to see how their subjects see the world. I want to note that this is not just about how much imagination the subjects possess; how the subjects see the world is key. What jumped out at me was how Ofelia constructs the world around her. Ofelia constructs her world from what she knows and goes from there because that is all that she can do. I love how unfazed Ofelia is when she encounters the creatures she creates in her mind whether it be the giant versions of familiar animals or the right-sized versions of new beings. Eleven year old me could never, but Ofelia reminded me of a friend in my childhood that moved away who had her same spirit, so seeing her in adverse conditions hurt my heart even more.

As for the rest of the film, I loved that the war was never explicitly mentioned, just implied. Every one of the characters are well-developed with their motivations in full view. The unexpected standout for me was Capitán Vidal, played by Sergi López, in his quest for leaving behind a legacy. Although I will never defend his actions, seeing the scene by the mirror (I love anything dealing with reflections really!) cemented what I already knew. The storytelling in this film is textbook and more. Early on, del Toro sets up a couple of plot points, and seeing those plot points carried out was super satisfying. And lastly a special mention to the score by Javier Navarrete, which captured childlike wonderment spectacularly. All of these elements have softened up my fantasy hating heart today and for that I am glad.

Ultimately, Pan's Labyrinth says that leaving a legacy for a large number of people is not as meaningful as touching the hearts of a select few. What a powerful thesis that is.

Thank you Pond for the recommendation. A sweet woman that I volunteer with, Maria, told me that this was her favorite film of all time, which reminded me of your comment, so I had to watch Pan's Labyrinth ASAP. I was not disappointed.

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