Prepare your senses for tingling Statement of intent: The purpose of this piece of writing was to show the reader that Guillermo del Toro’s film, Pan’s labyrinth is a fantastic film well worth watching. Guillermo del Toro’s film, Pan’s labyrinth it stays strong to the horror/ magical realism genre. As a first time magical realism viewer I thoroughly enjoyed watching this film. I enjoyed the film because it was a unique take on a war film that I haven’t seen before. The film was very well crafted and controlled.
Being dropped into Franco’s front line to live among monsters would not be easy for me, a self-proclaimed bulletproof 18 year old male, let alone an 11 year old girl. Yet, with courage Ofilia (Ivana Baquero) completes tasks that send shivers down the audience’s spines. Director Guillermo del Toro builds up Ofelia’s character in this messed up fascist front lines under Captain Vidal’s (Sergi Lopez) strict ruling. The magical realism genre enchants the viewers into building a hatred for the sadistic Captain who has brought Ofelia and her mother Carmen to the creaky mill so that his son can be born and be with him.
If you enjoy a captivating storyline and mystical creatures with a slight dab of horror that gets the blood moving you will love this movie. In saying that, ever since watching Peter Pan I have had a hatred for fairies or mystical kingdoms, but I guess that’s because Tinkerbell was moody and snobby. Like Peter Pan this film has fairies and magical kingdoms but the difference is, even with my pre-existing dislike del Toro managed to capture my attention and use this genre to make a movie that developed its characters controllably.
The reason I enjoyed the magical realism in the movie was because it was done so well, normally when I watch a film with magic elements I have to question the need for magic but, del Toro used the genre without needing any explanation to why it was necessary. The use of a magic kingdom for example was needed because without it del Toro would not have been able to show the full gruesome side of the Fascist Regime stopping at nothing to get what they want but, not necessarily coming out best off.
With a genre that you need to just simply be accepted to enable the characters to develop it was essential for the right actors to be selected and be able to play their part well. Armed with a good script these actors hit the bullseye. Sergi Lopez plays sadistic Vidal with a worrying skill and Ivana Baquero, at the young age of 12 pulling off Ofelia; the conflict between these two characters felt as real as could be. Ofilia is transformed from an innocent girl who reads fairy tales into a monster defying master.
The supporting actors and actresses kept the tension and conflict between the rebels and fascist forces with the doctor and Mercedes plotting against Vidal behind his back. One character learns that when you are on top it is a long way to fall. Carmen plays a small but vital role in the development of Vidal; she shows Vidal’s views on woman. The villain sees woman as being unable to think on their own and are below him. Over all it is very impressive the way the control the film has over you as you watch this movie.
If del Toro wanted to he could make you hate kittens, that’s how good his character building is. In Pan’s Labyrinth costumes are important because they develop the character for the audience and we get to see the person’s true nature through their clothing. This is extremely prevalent in Vidal’s costume with his strictly polished leather and well kept uniform. You know that one kid in class that is always clicking his pen? This kid is Vidal. What I mean by this is that Vidal’s costume comes with noises that drive people insane which is a good thing if you enjoy being wound up by a film.
The film uses costumes appropriately so that as the audience we know who is the bad guy and who is the good guy, if that wasn’t obvious enough. Nearing the end of the film Ofilia is dresses in white to show her innocents to everything that has happened, this is a nice touch and as a member of the audience this really captivated my emotions enhancing my experience. It is hard to find a good movie that will let your senses be enlightened as much as Pan’s Labyrinth does. del Toro uses music and sound effects that enhance certain aspects of the movie.
This is important because it draws in the audience and heightens their experience, for example in this film if you want to get away from the gore and horror you can’t just simply close your eyes, you need to close you eyes and block your ears. I feel that some action movies should take notes on how to do this well as it makes the audience react more to the movie and feel more involved. There are many moments that show this, such as the torture scene or the moment when Vidal performs self-surgery. This part made me giddy; I had to close my eyes but, that did nothing!
Music and lighting also play a big part in this movie by growing characters and keeping tension. The music and lighting work with each other to change the mood of the film, this in turn work well with the acting and creates a well crafted movie where all elements tie into each. An example for this come from the scene where Ofelia enters the tree to complete one of the tasks ,once inside we can see the bright golden sunlight on the outside of the tree and the shadow on the inside, this is all accompanied by the fading of the birds chirping.
Pan’s Labyrinth is a heartwarming well tuned film that grabs your attention and won’t let go. Think of it as your grandma, you know the cute old lady that would grab you in a massive hug as you got to her place and then never stop feeding you until you couldn’t walk but you loved her to bits for it. Magical Realism and horror, two genres that I have never really liked worked well together to trap my attention and evoke emotions that other movies have struggled to even touch.
With fantastic acting from the main actors to the supporting actors and actresses I was able to be fulling engaged in the storyline without having to get mad at bad acting; which is a pet hate of mine. The costumes on each one of these actors worked well to show the nature of the character they were playing and mixed in with that music, lighting and sound effects the film was able to make you happy, sad, angry or excited. It was well crafted and truly enjoyable. Self proclaimed bulletproof 18 year old males don’t get emotional and when they do they definitely don’t admit it. Pan’s Labyrinth tried hard but it could not squeeze a tear from me.