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Pan's Labyrinth
Horror, fantasy, gore, and Fascism all in one
A Scene from "Pan's Labyrinth".
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $8,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

August 7th, 2006: In 1944, during a Fascist regime that followed the countryís Civil War, a young girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her mother are forced to relocate to rural Spain to live with the girlís stepfather, Captain Vidal (Sergi Lůpez). As the leader of a military unit sworn to fight any rebels in the territory, Vidal is the epitome of Fascism and a brutally abusive stepfather to Ofelia. Her loneliness and vivid imagination lead her to a fantastic discovery of an incredible stone labyrinth near her new home. When she ventures inside, she discovers a surreal world full of mythical creatures that hail her as their princess. Ofelia soon meets the otherworldly Pan (Doug Jones), who gives her three dangerous tasks to complete before she can return home. For the 11-year old girl, it is a magnificent escape that will help her cope with the harsh realities of the world she left.

What to Expect: Director Guillermo del Toro has built up quite a reputation as a skillful master of morbid fantasy. He first broke through with his impressive 1993 horror debut Cronos and has since moved on to more conventional films like Blade II and Hellboy. Both transcended the not-widely-known-comic-book genre and went on to become genuine hits with mainstream audiences. Since then, del Toro has been particularly busy. Besides Panís Labyrinth, he has three other projects in the works: Killing on Carnival Row, 3993, and Hellboy 2.

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At the moment, however, Panís Labyrinth seems to be all the rage. The director took two years out of his life in order to make the film exactly the way he wanted it. He has called it the single most fulfilling creative experience of his career, which he hopes can represent a blueprint for his future projects as well. Panís Labyrinth appears to encompass all of themes and ideas del Toro has explored in the past.

The cast of actors will be unknown to most, but they have already won early accolades. Doug Jones, who worked as a mime and contortionist before going into film, is typically buried behind prosthetics. Youíve probably seen him in make-up in films like Stuck on You, Hellboy, and The Benchwarmers. Panís Labyrinth marks his third collaboration with del Torro and word is that his two characters are truly a sight to behold. Not only does he play the titular creature Pan, but also the bizarre Pale Man, who can be seen in the trailer sporting eyeballs in the palms of his hands. Apparently it took Jones five hours to get into the costume, which greatly hindered the actorís movement and peripheral vision. Sergi Lůpez reportedly plays Captain Vidal with relentless maliciousness. The character represents all of the filmís evil rolled into one person and Lůpez boldly goes for a wicked characterization. Vidal will be the sort of character one loves to hate. Finally, Ivana Baquero has also been praised for her ability to carry so much of the weight as the protagonist. Her character goes through a gut-wrenching journey and the young actress apparently does an excellent job of making the audience care every step of the way.

Although the film is likely to win over critics, there are a lot of elements in Panís Labyrinth that American audiences may be turned-off by. For instance, the film is in del Toroís native Spanish language, which means that there will be some pesky subtitles on the bottom of the frame. Additionally, there may not be a very wide audience for a film that is set in Spain circa 1944. The Fascist Franco politics of the time may be a bit dry for some and the fantasy metaphors may be excessively conceptual. All this can be fixed with a marketing campaign that pushes the filmís thriller elements, while concealing some of the complex issues that are raised.

Panís Labyrinth was entered in the main competition at this yearís Cannes Film Festival and according to many critics, it was one of the frontrunners to take home the Palme díOr. While the film impressed critics, it nearly floored the fanboys. Itís important to point out that Panís Labyrinth is a fantasy for adults and will carry a very appropriate R rating. It may sound like a fairy tale, but due to the complicated subject matter and sinister tone, itís likely to be overwhelming to younger audiences. Furthermore, the film is supposed to be very brutal, bloody, and gory. Interestingly, it is the real life violence that proves to be much more disturbing than the one Ofelia finds in the labyrinth. Of course, itís all part of del Toroís plan as he hopes to achieve a level much more profound than he has been able to ever reach before.

In Conclusion: Panís Labyrinth is essentially a re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland, with a much more sinister and positively disturbing storyline. Any fans of intelligent horror are likely to be fascinated by what this movie will have to offer. Those familiar with del Toroís past work will probably hail Panís Labyrinth as his masterpiece. I think it could be a fascinating ride and the late December release suggests Oscar potential. Sadly, the plot and the themes may be a bit too unconventional for mainstream audiences.

Similar Titles: The Devilís Backbone, Legend, Labyrinth
December 29th, 2006 (limited)
May 15th, 2007 (DVD)

Picturehouse Films

Guillermo del Toro

Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones, Sergi Lopez, Ariadna Gil, Maribel Verdu, Alex Angulo

Total: 132 vote(s).

Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Click here to view site

Rated R for graphic violence and some language.

112 min






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