The only things I knew about this movie before I watched it was that it was an 'art' film and that I would have to read English subtitles, my Spanish is woefully lacking. Oh, and I assumed that it was a film for children; considering the title and that the main character was a young girl, I thought that was a fair assumption. I was wrong.
Quick plot summary (no spoiler): Early 1940s Spain. A young girl and her pregnant mother go to live in the country with a military captain (the mother’s second husband) and his troop of men. He has been charged with rooting out rebels hiding in the hills. The young girl reads fairytales and has a fanciful mind.
When I think of an art film I expect some amazing cinematography, but I also expect to be yawning through most of it. Storyline and plot sacrificed for great camera work and art, but not so here. Pan’s Labyrinth was beautifully filmed, but my attention did not suffer, the action is frequent and interesting. It had artfully constructed natural, fanciful scenes and creative creatures perfectly woven into the real world of the story.
It did all of that while showing a dose of real world violence rarely actualized in ‘American’ movies. There are a few scenes that made me cringe and almost look away, but I didn’t want to miss anything. We’ve all seen people beaten to death and gunshot wounds in American movies; we’ve all been taught that every car that wrecks blows up spectacularly. Everything is done to the extreme for the gore hungry audience. However, Guillermo del Toro ‘understands’ how to use violence to drive the character development and plot and not bore the audience with endless spurting blood packets.
Not a kids’ movie; not an average movie. The subtitles didn’t bother me at all; I was too engaged to be annoyed. The acting was incredible from the whole cast. Sergi López as Capitán Vidal was the stand out performance.
And great respect to the special effects and make-up crew. Top-notch work!
If you’re tired of the same rehashed sequel crap this summer, rent it. As for me I’m going to buy this one; I’ll watch it again and again.
Trailers at Apple