Guillermo del Toro’s movie “Pan’s Labyrinth” is set in fascist Spain in 1944 where a young girl Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) escapes the brutal and sadistic reality by entering an eerie fantasy world in which she must complete three tasks in order to be freed and be able to return as princess to her underworld kingdom.
Ofelia travels with her pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) to a remote outpost headed by Vidal (Sergi López) her stepfather and evil, sadistic capitán, hellbent to quell all rebellious activities once and for all.
The script, also written by del Toro, is merciless to the last detail and what is more, it makes the transitions between fantasy and real world appear magically seamless. In one scene when Ofelia tells her unborn brother baby a fairy tale to soothe him, the camera pans into the womb, showing the fetus and pans right on into the scenery of the tale Ofelia is telling about a blue rose and in that scene the little fairy insect from the beginning of the movie enters the fairy scene and crawls back into the real room, totally seamless and beautiful.
The conflict between rebels and Vidal’s troops escalates more and more and finally culminate at the outpost right after Ofelia’s baby brother is born. To complete her last task and final chance to return to her kingdom as a princess, she must bring the boy into the labyrinth but everybody knows that Fauns lie, right?
The movie is shot in Spanish with English subtitles and it really needs to be seen in Spanish. This is not a fairy tale for kids and the topic is not a light-hearted one. What is this movie really about then? The war? The fascist regime? A little girl and her fantasy world? Is any of it real? How was she able to leave the locked and guarded room? Was the chalked door a real door? Do you obey without questioning? Vidal does.
I highly recommend you go see this movie without reading any summaries or spoilers. It will draw a door for you, open it and enter but don’t forget to turn the hourglass.