Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth ★★★★★

97

Fantasy shaken by bullet fire and the agony of tired souls cut short, Pan's Labyrinth is a genuine marvel of storytelling, craftsmanship, design, and pure theatricality within cinematic boundaries. Skillfully told and heartrending in its mixture of warfare anxiety and childhood imagination, Guillermo Del Toro (master of understated drama and boisterous action) constructs a fluid vision that layers its "segments" with distinct separation. As each particular story (every subplot is important) eventually collides by the end of such a rich and engrossing tapestry, reality and illusion embrace in the most cathartic way.

It's a film that thrives because of its cumulative end, but Pan's Labyrinth succeeds so miraculously because each moment is plotted in line with Del Toro's storybook structure. Essential (but infrequent) narration, smooth transitions, and the obvious presence of fairy-tale creatures all contribute to a work that celebrates the artificiality of invention, and while folk-tales usually comment on the harsh surfaces of reality, it is Del Toro's commitment to layer each story like detached rooms in a widening castle that speaks to me the most. This is why I love movies.

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