☆ Sophie ☆’s review published on Letterboxd:
I have so much nostalgia for this film, and half of it terrifies me. Pan's Labyrinth is set during the 'Franco' years after the Spanish Civil War. Written and Directed by Guillermo Del Toro, this film is a beautiful, dark and twisted fairy tale that is a metaphor for Spain itself, as it swings on the edge of nightmares of corruption, violence and the death of innocents. There aren't many films that can manage to blur the lines between fantasy and reality as effectively as Pan's Laberynth. The movies, like our dreams, folklore, and imagination, are filled with symbols and images that can strike a chord in our deepest being. In watching this movie, we combine ideas of the real, the imaginary, and the symbolic to find an inner harmony.
Guillermo Del Toro did everything to succeed in this film. Not only did he assemble a surprisingly talented cast, but he was able to make you connect with the situation. The characters are all well developed, and the symbolism, though subtle, is so exquisite that it makes me want more with the thought of it. The dialogue is natural and authentic, and he handles the film expertly to convey that timeless feel even with some of the film's harsher moments. The final scene is also a true mountain, with a killer of a send-off line and an ambiguous ending, which still fuels debates to this day. Pan's Labyrinth leads us through parallel stories and themes without once losing its internal consistency. Innocence and brutality, fantasy and reality, together in a beautiful fairy tale about the power of magic in dark times. This is one of my favorite fantasy films of all time.
P.S. It was nice not having to rely on reading subtitles because I can understand Spanish well. However, the Spanish accent from Spain at the time can be a bit hard to understand since the vocab is a bit outdated. In addition, I think Del Toro brilliantly uses minimal dialogue during the more fantastical scenes for the viewer to embrace the visuals; since the scenes are designed so you are not distracted reading the text to enjoy the scene.