Pan's Labyrinth ★★★★★

“Because it is in pain that we find the meaning of life.”

I remember watching the 2007 Academy Awards, where Pan’s Labyrinth took home three awards. One of those awards was for Best Makeup, and gosh, I vividly remember 11-year-old me seeing the Pale Man and being haunted. Think I just turned to the tv screen and saw the design there and BOOM: nightmare fodder.

I think I’ve internalized that experience for years, and no matter how much acclaim I’ve heard from friends, critics’ lists, etc. about Pan’s Labyrinth, I always thought, “nah, not yet.” 

A damn shame

Because this movie, while yes grotesque, was so beautiful. There was a beauty in the macabre, and Pan’s Labyrinth is the mature fairy tale to warm my cold heart after watching the first of the 2020 U.S. Presidential debates (can we even call it a debate?).

So much praise has already been written about this film, but I’ll continue to shout them anyways. 

Guillermo del Toro… yes. Everything brought to life on-screen could only have been the result of a genius (with an affinity for the gruesome), and del Toro truly was on the top of his game with Pan’s Labyrinth. The film, even in all of its darkness, exudes so much love, so much hope. A truly beautiful tale brought to life by a genius.

The ensemble was spectacular, but special praise to Ivana Baquero as Ofelia. Only being 11 at the time, she had so much poise and really held her own throughout the movie’s duration. She was phenomenal, and every reason why I teared up was pretty much a result of her acting. Doug Jones, of course, as the Faun/Pale Man… what a guy with such physicality to do those roles justice. Movie wouldn’t have been the same without those characters’ strong presences.

The Oscar-winning turn from cinematographer Guillermo Navarro: so good! Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography for Children of Men was also recognized in 2007, wow, what a year for camerawork!

The original score by Javier Navarrete was spectacular. The main theme/lullaby is precious. Contributes so much to the movie’s underworld/fairy-tale tone. Wouldn’t have been the same without it.

This movie floored me. Repeatedly left in awe by the magic. I’d go as far as to say this is a modern-day classic. Deserves to be acclaimed as such (to me). Wonderful movie! 

To obey - just like that - for obedience's sake... without questioning... That's something only people like you do.

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