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Pan's Labyrinth
USA, Spain, Mexico
Drama, Thriller, War, Mystery, Fantasy
IMDB rating:
Guillermo del Toro
Ivana Baquero as Ofelia
Sergi López as Captain Vidal
Maribel Verdú as Mercedes
Doug Jones as Fauno
Ariadna Gil as Carmen Vidal
Álex Angulo as Doctor
Manolo Solo as Garcés
César Vea as Serrano
Ivan Massagué as El Tarta
Gonzalo Uriarte as Francés
Francisco Vidal as Sacerdote (as Paco Vidal)
Juanjo Cucalón as Alcalde
Storyline: In 1944 falangist Spain, a girl, fascinated with fairy-tales, is sent along with her pregnant mother to live with her new stepfather, a ruthless captain of the Spanish army. During the night, she meets a fairy who takes her to an old faun in the center of the labyrinth. He tells her she's a princess, but must prove her royalty by surviving three gruesome tasks. If she fails, she will never prove herself to be the the true princess and will never see her real father, the king, again.
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HQ DVD-rip 720x480 px 1725 Mb mpeg4 2028 Kbps mp4 Download
DVD-rip 528x288 px 701 Mb mpeg4 824 Kbps avi Download
Subtle as a Brick
I just don't get it. The "real" world elements portrayed here make a satisfying story although somewhat obvious and lacking in subtlety. Nevertheless I could happily have watched a version of this film if it had no fantasy elements and at least had a cathartic experience based on the bad guy getting what he deserved. But the fantasy elements just did not fit here. Firstly they were strictly fantasy 101 - oh, the girl goes on the hero's journey represented by the journey into the underworld where she has to perform a series of tasks to prove her worth. Secondly they had no relationship to the real world events. Thirdly as the message was presumably that she escaped from the real horrors by fantasising, then why bother with the complex symbolism? If you want fantasy then "Lord of the Rings" does better than this at portraying the horrors of war. If you want the real horrors of war then there are a zillion things you could watch, staring with Apocalypse Now and working down from there. I'm a big fan of fantasy and I'm a big fan of realism but this attempted combination just does not work on either count. This film will appeal to those who fancy themselves as intellectuals and like reading magical realist novels that win literary prizes. I would think that most fantasy fans, who can discern the subtext of a story in a heartbeat, and most of those who are moved by a war film can only be baffled by the praise heaped upon this entirely pedestrian film that tries to succeed by bludgeoning the viewer with the obvious. I repeat; I just don't get it.
A fey, beautiful and dark masterpiece
Set during Franco's mopping up exercise after the Spanish Civil War, Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth is a wonderful, dark fairy tale that, in a metaphor for Spain itself, teeters on the edge of nightmare dreamscapes of corruption, violence and the death of innocents.

This film is definitely not for young children. Although the fantasy sequences are gorgeously realised, and are fairy tales in the truest sense (in that they are dark, fey, dangerous and violent), most of the story (about three quarters of it, in fact) exists outside of the dreamland, in the even more frightening (and sometimes shockingly violent) world of a real life struggle of ideas and ideology.

Sergi Lopez is excellent as the brutal (and possibly sadistic) Falangist Captain tasked with routing out the remaining leftists from the woods and hills of Northern Spain. Into this precarious situation come his new wife (a widow of a former marriage, who is carrying his son) and his stepdaughter Ofelia (played to absolute perfection, by the then 11 year old, Ivana Baquero).

Uncomfortable with her new surroundings, suspicious of her stepfather and desperately concerned about the worsening condition of her mother, Ofelia uncovers a strange alternative world, and the chance to escape forever the pain and uncertainty of her everyday life.

Thus the film alternates between the world of Civil War Spain and the increasingly bizarre, dark and frightening world of the Pan's Labyrinth. As the twin plots progress, they intertwine, with the tasks of Ofelia becoming the choices faced by a Spain at the crossroads. The poignancy of the film lies partly in the fact that the victories of the child are reflected so starkly by the failures of the adult world.

Apparently Pan's Labyrinth won a 20-minute standing ovation at Cannes, when it was shown. This may be a little bit over the top. I suspect when the furore has died down some will choose to swing the pendulum back and criticise it for its more obvious faults. Much of the film is derivative. There are few ideas in the film's magical dreamworld that haven't been seen before. There are also few ideas in the film's depiction of the Civil War that can't be read in Satre or Orwell; can't be viewed in Picasso's Guernica; or can't be watched in Land and Freedom.

For all the evident truth of these observations, to accept them would be to entirely miss the majesty of Pan's Labyrinth, which doesn't lie in its originality but its absolute mastery of execution. People will watch Pan's Labyrinth in a way that most won't watch Land and Freedom. In doing so, they will also discover a world of fairy tales which existed before Disney sunk its claws into them: a dangerous world, where nothing is as it seems and every step is a possible death – a place which may leave even adults shivering under the duvet, part in terror, part in wonder. And all this backed up by the finest cinematography I've seen.

The only real faults I am prepared to allow for this film is a slight tendency (particularly at the end) for a Narnia-like moralism, and the fact that the faun is, perhaps, is not quite wild enough! These are eminently forgivable, though. This is easily the best film I've seen this year, and a must see on the big screen.
Nice production value, meh story, boring characters
This movie had great cinematography and special effects as well as good acting. The basic idea for the story is a cool one, but the war-drama story line is just so boring, even though it is well made. It just goes on and on without really going anywhere, there is no clear goal for the story to reach.

Then there is a fantasy story line, which I found to be cooler and more thrilling then the war drama story line. But both story lines are kinda destroyed by the flat and uninteresting characters. My last point is that I didn't get the point or the message of the movie. It isn't a movie without any depth, but as the movie ends, there is no feeling of an appeal, the story is just... over.

Quite nice to look at, good acting and a decent soundtrack, but also filled with boring and flat characters and an interesting story idea, but it had no special appeal and just continues without increasing.
Deadly Dull, Deadly Stupid
Filmed well, but darkly, Pan's Labyrinth is a nonsensical tale of a little girl's adventures through a fantasy world of grotesque creatures and places as she escapes the equally grotesque reality of her worldly situation. Ofelia is step-daughter to a sadistic captain of the guards of an area of Franco's Spain still under guerrilla threat of the residual partisan opposition. The fantasy elements of the movie are pointless and shockingly boring. They are full of unexplained sickening creatures, insects, fairies, and FX hamming.

The stupid insurrection fleshes out scenes of the real world. But the picture is reasonably interesting when the Captain is pursuing his cruel regime and investigations. A servant and some others are sympathizers with the Resistance while working in the Captain's own household. Ofelia's pregnant mother is carrying the Captain's child. The Captain himself is compelling and is clearly no coward. The movie is at it's meager best when he is on screen.

Why is the insurrection 'stupid'? Well, we know, of course, that the Franco regime survived and the insurrection did not. So, we cannot hope to see the rebels prevailing in the long run. This makes their cause and their actions meaningless.

The movie commits the cardinal sin that a movie can commit: the death of a child by violence. Try though they might to dress that up with a scene of Ofelia's reunification with her (by that time dead) mother and natural father in the hereafter, the fact remains that this child has been killed.

The movie is well-shot and well-acted. It is relentlessly dark and depressing. And worst of all, it makes no sense whatsoever. Nor is it interesting. Despite all the fantasy and harsh reality, this is basically an extremely overlong and boring movie. A true waste of two hours.
A masterpiece
This movie is a Mexican-Spanish co-production and in my opinion a Guillermo Del Toro 's masterpiece. If we defined a masterpiece as a content or form who finds an adequate expression in an art form then this movie is one . There are so many things to talk about but let's start with the photography that have an outstanding quality , it's almost like paintings . The screenplay unite 2 separate worlds , the world of fantasy and the post war era in Spain in a very wise way. Being Spanish myself I recognize many of the things the screenplay talks about . The actors and actresses do a once in a lifetime performances , for me this movie is a casting miracle . Ivana Baquero, Maribel Verdú ( in a performance full of dignity and courage), Sergi Lopez ( his fascist is a terrible character but he gives him humanity ).The music score by Javier Navarrete is full of subtle details and good orchestration .And the movie never takes the easy way , it's full of logic and good storytelling . A truly great movie that one cannot miss, be in cinemas or DVD.
I simply don't see the big hooplah...*SPOILERS*
I can't add anymore really, than some of the more realistic non-rose colored glasses-wearing voters/reviewers that I have read so far, have stated about this over-hyped, coffeehouse-artsy, brain drain of a movie.

This review may seem harsh, but I tend to judge "theatrical" movies with a MUCH harsher eye than Indie movies due to the budgets theatrical movies have (and Indies don't) and the much more experienced and influential directors that theatrical movies have - and Indies don't.

With that said...with GDT at the helm...I expected much more from this movie...especially since it was hyped like the best thing since sliced bread.

I guess that's why hype is not always a good thing.

I'm simply voicing my personal displeasure at hearing what a magical, well-done, purely fascinating movie this was, only be left thinking...'That's it? This was good makeup wise and the scenery was kind of cool, but THIS is it?' My main problem with this movie is the subsequent actions of some of the characters and how they are simply touched on and yet people are attaching huge amounts of symbolism to them.

I have heard people say that the only downfall to this movie was that it was in Spanish and they had to be bothered reading subtitles in order to understand it - and therefore possibly missing some important parts while they're reading.

Sorry...problems with this movie go beyond subtitles.

The disobedience of Ofelia is infuriating and makes the entire movie unbelievable as a whole, on any point. Until the end of the movie, she obeys the faun, this mythical character that would scare the dickens out of most kids (call me crazy, but in my opinion, he looked evil and I'd have run as fast as my legs would carry me had he appeared to me, no matter how many fairtyales I'd read!) without question and yet when it's MOST important (the scene with the child eating pale man) she completely abandons all common sense.

Okay, so she went to bed with no supper, that excuses eating the grapes when she was, in no uncertain terms, told that her LIFE would depend on NOT eating, no matter what she saw? I've read that she was in a trance, that it symbolizes this and that. Give me a break. She's just a typical kid that does what she wants when it suits her. No big mystery, meaning or symbolism there.

And what of Mercedes? She can gut innocent pigs with no problem (as she says when she has the blade in the Captain's cheek) but she can't kill a murdering Fascist creep like him, thereby freeing the rebels and herself from his oppressive and cruel grip? People say, "Well, it's easy to say what you'd do if you haven't been in the situation." True...but it's also easy to say what you wouldn't do in the same situation, if you haven't lived it. I just think the entire situation was unrealistically presented.

I resent all the ravings about this film and people trying to attach meaningless symbolism to this pieced together fairytale. Sometimes a movie is just a movie and I'm afraid this is one of them.

What a disappointment.
Pan's Labyrinth: The Fairy Tale of the Decade
Yes, this movie is a fairy tale. Yes, it deals with fairies, fauns, and ogres, with magic spell books and princesses. No, this movie is not at all for children nor those who dislike major violence.

Labyrinth takes place in Spain in 1944s, during a time of Spanish civil war. A ruthless Captain (Sergi López), has set up camp in a distant forest, and requests that his pregnant step-wife (Ariadna Gil) and her fantasy-obsessed daughter, Ofelia (brilliantly played by Ivana Baquero) join him there. As she tries to adjust to the country life smack dab in the middle of the battlefield, Ofelia runs into a magical fairy who leads her to a mystical labyrinth, where she meets a mysterious and suspicious faun, Pan (wonderfully played by Doug Jones), who tells her that she is the long-lost princess of an underground kingdom, and that she must complete three dangerous tasks to return to her throne.

While the movie closely follows Ofelia's tasks, spoken to her by a magic book from Pan, it is mostly about the war, double agents (Maribel Verdú and Álex Angulo), and the Captain's near-obsession with his expected son. The battles are extremely brutal (starting early with a couple of rabbit hunters) and made me queazy a couple of times. So brutal are these deaths, in fact, that you'll be relieved to see a simple shot to the head or back.

The acting is top-notch, and young Ivana Baquero has a huge and brilliant future ahead of her (picture Dakota Fanning, only a better actress and less annoying). The animation is phenomenal, but not nearly as breathtaking as the costumes or scenery. The labyrinth itself just sucks all the breath out of you when you see it at night for the first time. The "pale man" (also played by Doug Jones), is by far the most terrifying creature in the movie, most-likely to give even the most mature and grown-up adults shivers.

Yes, this movie does have sub-titles (it's in Spanish), but it's hardly noticeable at first, so much so that you forget about them by the tragic end of the movie.

This movie is frightening and sad to the extreme, but it also gives you a sense of hope that magic does, in fact, exist. One of the best movies I've seen in a long time and truly the fairy tale of the decade!
Devoid of grace, wit, and soul
I was warned that "Pan's Labyrinth" had some violent content, but I was not prepared for the senseless brutality, cruelty, and depravity that this pointless horror film contained. It left me feeling disgusted and angry at the people who wrote this piece of trash. Beyond the sophisticated production and excellent special effects, I have nothing whatsoever to say in favor of this ultimately nihilistic, pseudo-mythic-poetic fairy tale. It has no grace, no wit, no soul. I would never even mention this film in the same breath as "Lord of the Rings" or "Chronicles of Narnia," which are both on an entirely different level altogether. And yet this film is rated at #41 on the IMDb Top 250 film list--higher than "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Alien," and even "The Wizard of Oz"! This has a lot to say about the graceless and degenerate age in which we live, and about del Toro himself, who, by virtue of this film, has shown himself to be quite in step with the prevailing moral climate of today.

The reviews, marketing, and previews would lead you to believe that this film was a fantasy tale for both children and adults to enjoy, which it most assuredly is not. What you really have is an utterly grim war drama with a touch of fantasy thrown in for good measure. But both of these elements are not confluent and the juxtaposition only serves to muddle the film and create an incoherent whole. Graphic depictions of amputations, wanton killing, and what I consider to be the most reprehensible act of all--the senseless murder of an innocent child—make "Pan's Labyrinth" irredeemable in my eyes.

I think that any society that can embrace this psychotic and sadistic film as art is in danger of imminent decline. Anyone with a sensitive soul and kind heart will quickly see through the subterfuge parading itself as fantasy and recognize the beast for what it truly is.
It's good, but nowhere near as good as the reviews would have you believe
I had unsurmountable expectations for this one, and, alas, they remain unsurmounted. It didn't even come close. It is an entertaining film, but, as a whole, it feels half-baked. Near the end of the Spanish Civil War, a little girl, Ofelia, is taken with her pregnant mother to an old mill, where her new husband, a sadistic army captain, awaits. At the mill, she meets a fairy who leads her to a faun, who asks her to perform three tasks so she might take her place as princess of a magical kingdom. It's less a fantasy film than a fairy tale. In that way, I suppose I'm obliged to forgive that its fantasy world goes completely unrealized and remains paper thin throughout. Honestly, except for a couple of sequences, there really isn't a fantasy world. Most of the film takes place in the real world, where the Captain is trying to rid the area of some pesky rebels and Ofelia's mother is struggling to survive her difficult pregnancy. What is much harder to forgive, though, is that Guillermo del Toro extends the two-dimensionality to the Spanish Civil War setting. The Captain is a completely cartoonish bad guy, and the situation is seen completely in black and white. I mean, we're talking about a real conflict here where many people died. It's kind of insulting. If this were an American made film, people would be railing against it. It's also insulting to Spirit of the Beehive, on which del Toro has said he based the film. Where Spirit is a gentle yet effective study on the nature of human cruelty, Pan celebrates human cruelty with extremely violent sequences which are meant to be enjoyed as they are in action films (the director did, of course, previously make Blade II and Hellboy). Wow, it sounds like I hated this film! I didn't, really. I have some ideological problems with it, obviously, and I wish it were better than it is. But it is an enjoyable little horror/fantasy film. You could do better, but you could do worse, too.
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