Monday, January 29, 2007

Anti-Fascism Fantasy

I finally got around to seeing Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, and, boy, am I glad I did! Shadowy and grotesque, poignant and alluring - this fairytale, set during the end of the Spanish Civil War, warns of what may happen when nature and virtue become relegated to the shadows.

Pan's Labyrinth
tells the story of Ofelia, a little girl, who - under the weight of tremendous emotional burden - retreats to a fantasy world of fairies and monsters. Perhaps her retreat is an escape from reality or - possibly - it's the only way she has to process the turbulent upheavel in her life. Played by the gifted twelve-year old Ivana Baquero, Ofelia is the embodiment of sympathy. Her fantasy world exists behind the walls and beneath the floorboards of an old, creaky house.

Was this behind the scenes fantasy world a nod to CS Lewis? Maybe if Lewis had been raised Catholic and resentful of that fact. Another obvious connection would be to Lewis Carroll's Alice, if only Carroll had grown up listening to Slayer. This is not a cutesy movie. Humankind's capacity for cruelty is held to the light for full examination.

Maribel Verdú (who also played Luisa in Y Tu Mamá También) is brilliant as Mercedes, Ofelia's bastion of hope and mercy.

I could go on. However, I think it better to direct you to a recent interview with director Del Toro on the radio show Fresh Air. Click here to access that interview, in which Del Toro explains how he came to take monsters into his heart at an early age.


M. Snow said...

Man, I really want to see this movie!

Tiki Chris said...

Yeah, it's pretty wonderful.

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