Valuable quotes

"No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow." ~~

"The minute you start talking about what you're going to do if you lose, you've already lost." ~~

Cree Prophecy - "When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money." ~~

Monday, May 21, 2007

Pans Labyrinth

Writer / director Guillermo Del Toro

I have been waiting for this movie to be released ever since the first images were released for it back in late 2004. I was so ready to love this movie and I wish I could tell you I do. After the first viewing, I questioned myself for not being on the same wagon with everyone else regarding the grandeur of this movie, but after the second viewing, its weaknesses became even more evident to me. I'm aware I'm coloring outside the lines on this one of course, and many people will disagree with my critique. C'est la vie.

I don’t consider myself a movie critic in any way. In fact, I will be honest; this is my first serious attempt at a review. But I am a movie goer and my reason for embarking on this review in particular is because in spite of the hoopla and the reception that this film received wherever it was seen, I still didn’t like it. For one reason, but for me, a ruinous one. While so many scenes of this movie are breathtakingly beautiful visuals, so too are the overplayed and gratuitously long scenes of cruelty.

For me, Pan’s Labyrinth was too tough to sit through in too many places. This disappointed me more than I can say. Watching a psychopath torture and kill without compunction or remorse isn’t something I find entertaining no matter how well the effects are done.
An adult fairytale it is called. Well, there are fairies and it is a tale, so I can’t argue with how it's being promoted. But if you decide to see this movie, be prepared for these scenes. Fairytale slash nightmare might be a more apt promo.

The story takes place in war-torn Spain, following Franco’s victory in 1944. A young 10 year old girl, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) travels to the north with her very pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil). They are traveling to take up residence with Ofelia’s new stepfather Captain Vidal (Sergi López), a sadistically cruel man who takes great pleasure in torturing his captured rebels and insubordinates.

They arrive at the converted mill/garrison, and Ofelia quickly realizes she cannot accept this savage monster as her new father, so she looks for ways of escaping him.

She befriends Mercedes (Maribel Verdú), the housekeeper to Captain Vidal and Mercedes along with a mantis turned fairy, lead her to a magical old tree. Within the tree is a garden –the garden with the mystical labyrinth. It is guarded by Pan (mime Doug Jones) a faun, half-man, half-goat. Pan appears to be a friend and offers to help Ofelia out of her predicament. He tells her she is Princess Moanna, a lost spirit who must complete three very difficult tasks before the next full moon in order to regain her reign in the Underworld. If she succeeds in these tasks, each one harder than the last, then she might escape the horror that devours her life now.
But the place she is escaping to proves to be equally as cruel as the world she’s just left behind.

I’m not sure I know just who the target audience was for this film. I admit I’m not a fan of slasher fare, but the excess of sadistic acts in Pans Labyrinth can only fit that category in part - emphasis on gory. Faces being bashed in with metal hammers, or body parts beaten off. And people subjected to a myriad of torture tools, a knife ripping through the side of a mouth or the sawing off of a leg – this may satisfy some horror fans, but unless you thought Schindler’s List was a fun and entertaining German romp, you’re going to be a bit nauseated by this flick. And through all this, don't expect a happy ending because there is none. This is the divergence from even the worst fairytale. Didn't the ogre meet a timely demise and everybody else live happily ever after in fairytales?

I didn’t expect the movie to be Disney-esque in any manner, nor did I expect anything with softened edges when I began watching, but I expected to enjoy it. Sadly, I only feel somewhat gypped by a push for sensationalism that wasn’t needed here.


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