Reviewed by: Spencer Schumacher
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
The Origin of bad—How did bad things come about? Answer
What kind of world would you create? Answer
|Featuring:||Maribel Verdu, Ivana Baquero, Sergi Lopez (II), Ariadna Gil, Alex Angulo|
|Director:||Guillermo del Toro—“Hellboy,” “Mimic,” “The Devil’s Backbone”|
|Producer:||Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron, Bertha Navarro|
“Innocence has a power evil cannot imagine.”
It should be noted that by director Guillermo del Toro’s (“Hellboy,” “Blade 2”) own admission his latest film, “Pan’s Labyrinth” is a film not for children, it’s a fairy tale meant to be viewed solely by adults, and given the quality and quantity of violence parents would be wise to keep the children away from this fairy tale.
The film explores the same setting of del Toro’s previous film, “The Devil’s Backbone” as it is set during the Spanish Civil War. Much like that film, “Pan’s Labyrinth” features a child protagonist, in this case Ofelia, a twelve year girl who is along with her pregnant mother to live with the Spanish commander, Capt. Vidal, who is the father to her soon to be born brother.
Upon arriving it is apparent that Ofelia does not like her new living arrangements and particularly does not like the fascist leader who she refuses to call her “father.” Instead Ofelia disappears into the fantastical world of the labyrinth that surrounds this village. A world of fairies, fauns and a rather gruesome monster who’s eyes sit in the creatures knife-like claws, a creature that is depicted to eat children in the wall drawings. This world that Ofelia finds is oblivious to all the adults or at least the refuse to acknowledge it, which is the theme of the film.
Ofelia is given three tasks by the ruler of the labyrinth, a six foot tall, hideous fawn. She must complete the tasks by the next full moon, and in doing so will release them all to their rightful place in the netherworld and gain immortality. If she fails, they all die. In accepting this challenge she engages in the three tasks, each becoming more dangerous than the last.
The film is very well done and as a fairy tale is well shot and lit. The colors and set design are very arresting visually. The acting is well done and the performances of Ivana Baqueno (Ofelia) and Sergi Lopez (Capt. Vidal) are very convincing.
As mentioned, this film is meant for adults, and though there is no nudity, sexual content and only mild profanity the violence level is severe. There is the typical level of violence and shooting one would expect for a film set in a historic war, but beyond that there is also gore and multiple stabbing scenes during the fantasy escapes that Ofelia takes. As a fascist dictator, Capt. Vidal also engages in brutal torture which is depicted in more than one instance of this film. The second task that Ofelia goes on when she encounters the aforementioned child eating creature is truly frightening and moderately gory. There are a lot of bugs throughout the film, and in one of the fantasy scenes there is a gory scene of slime with a giant frog.
Overall, the film is well made and tells a compelling, yet fantastical story—better than most for this fantasy genre. However, Christians sensitive to gore, blood, scary creatures and violence should stay away from “Pan’s Labyrinth.”
The film is in Spanish with subtitles.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
Positive—I felt the need to post in response to Mr. Bradley. The film is a great work of art about how a child uses her imagination to escape the horror of what is happening around her. It does take place during a time in which Spain was having a revolution, and yes socialism was a part of the revolutionaries platform. However, to make comment that the government in Spain should not have been portrayed as BAD BAD BAD is ridiculous. The Spanish Government that those freedom fighters are trying to overthrow are a part of Franco’s Spain. Spain’s government at the time was Fascist, the viciousness with which they try and put down the freedom fighters in the film is considerable accurate. This was a government that sided with Nazi Germany in terms of ideological belief. To blindly characterize all revolutionaries as communist or socialist is to not understand why they are challenging the system, it is using a broad brush to paint all those who may disagree with the status quo, it is to marginalize those true revolutionaries in our world. When we fail to understand why one person is willing to fight we will fail to avoid the fight itself. Please take the time to understand your history on an individual case by case basis, do not always listen to what others tell you. Remember that Christ himself was a revolutionary who came to help non-other than the weakest (the peasants) among us.
Offensive / 5
—John, age 26
Positive—First of all, I’d like to applaud a Mr. James Bradley for having possibly the funniest movie review I’ve ever seen to date. Not only was it crude, ill-written, and uninformed, it was ludicrous, bordering on offensive. I actually saw this movie last night, and, obviously, I was a fan. First of all, the cinematography in this movie was fantastic. The lighting, the camera angles, and the general mood throughout the entire performance were really quite stunning. I was impressed by the acting, particularly by that of the little girl who played Ofelia. She managed to seem both very human and very fantastic. I almost felt like I was reading a fairy tale. Not one of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, mind you, but one with a happier ending. And yes, I realize that some of you out there would say that the ending of this movie is sad, disturbing, or even traumatic, but I found that the sentiments portrayed by Mr. Del Toro were nothing short of beautiful.
Now, after having read the reviews on this movie, I was rather impressed by some, but some of them had a peculiar way of turning my stomach. Now, I am a big believer in free speech, and very much an advocate of the First Amendment, so I believe that everyone has the right to state their opinion. I also, as a result of that, believe that I, or anyone else, have/has the right to call someone down on it. That being said, here is my opinion of this movie, from a content and spiritual perspective.
I heard this movie describe as “a non-stop cavalcade of horrifying brutality, murder and violence.” I’ll be the first one to admit that this is a violent movie. For those of you out there that are disturbed by violence, I would not advise this film. But for those of you out there who abhor or condemn violence in its every facet, consider this. I’d say it’s entirely possible that the most violent, and possible sexually-oriented book in the world is the Bible. For the violence, you must know what I mean. In the book of Judges, it graphically describes how a Jewish assassin plunges a blade deep into a obese man’s stomach, and how the fatty flesh closes over the blade before he can retract it. That’s pretty violent. As for the sexual content, you have most likely never read the Hebrew “Song of Solomon.” It is so graphic that the English translations are nothing like the original. And yes, I know that the Bible is a true story, and based on God’s very words. Just consider it.
Also, something I found very disturbing was the comment of the aforementioned “James Bradley.” As I said earlier, I believe that a man (or woman) has the right to say his opinion. However, I believe that that grants me the right to call it down. I was sad when I finished reading that comment. He insults communism, socialism, and Marxism in virtually every way he can manage. I realize that it is probable that he is just uniformed: I know the effect that '50’s propaganda had America’s view of Communism. I just wish that he would be more informed about those things that he chose to bash. Communism, in concept, is a wonderful thing. If you don’t believe me, read the Bible. The early church under Peter was, to at least a certain extent, a commune. They shared everything, and they were all equals. The rigid hierarchy that is present in today’s America was not there. So please, at least consider my words. So, in closing, I would STRONGLY recommend this movie to anyone who can stomach the violence. It is depressing in one way, yet uplifting in another. Feel free to take my words with a grain of salt, but at least you’ll be taking them.
Good / 4½
—Daniel, age 16