TORONTO: "Pan's Labyrinth" Is Brutal, Beautiful Fantasy

by | September 9, 2006 | Comments

A magic realist fairy tale set in Fascist Spain, "Pan’s Labyrinth" is endlessly imaginative, an embarrassment of visual riches. Screened at the Toronto Film Festival; read on for the full review!

This awe-inspiring mix of fantasy, horror and drama achieves something rare: it’s equally resonant visually and emotionally, and its director, Guillermo del Toro, has pulled out all the stops without compromise. Its sheer audacity is thrilling to behold.

Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a young girl with a love of fantastic stories, and her pregnant mother have just arrived at a military outpost in rural Spain. Ofelia’s stepfather (Sergio Garcia) is in charge, and is tasked with crushing the anti-fascist insurgency. Ofelia is immediately wary of the captain, and wanders into a labyrinth. There she meets a faun, who tells her she’s a princess, and assigns her a set of tasks that will bring this spirit world out of the darkness. She envelops herself in this fantasy world, while the battle between the fascists and the rebels, and the worsening condition of her mother hit closer to home.

The film contains many remarkable effects (a giant insect that becomes a fairy, a thin, eyeless child killer, a giant toad that bursts from its insides), and but they look wonderfully organic; this isn’t a soulless CGI-fest. And del Toro doesn’t give the short shrift to the real world. The brutality of the Spanish army and the hopes and doubts of the rebels and their accomplices are made chillingly real. Garcia is efficiently nasty, and Maribel Verdú, who cares for Ofelia and assists the rebels while working for the captain, has a face that conveys concern and resolve.

"Pan’s Labyrinth" is similar in essence (if not tone) to Victor Erice’s masterpiece "Spirit of the Beehive," another tale of a sad, wise child finding solace in fantasy (in that one, it was Frankenstein’s monster) during the Franco era. At other times, the influence of "Alice in Wonderland" is unmistakable. It’s certainly too dark and violent for children. But this is a singular work, sure to be a favorite of dreamers and cult movie fanatics for years to come.

"Pan’s Labyrinth" currently stands at 100 percent on the Tomatometer.

For our complete coverage of the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, check out our Tomatoes in Toronto Feature!

Tag Cloud

hist diversity Epix spain Netflix toy story CW Seed festivals 2017 tv talk unscripted elevated horror green book Endgame Avengers TCA comiccon LGBT aliens Animation Freeform HBO Max RT21 Discovery Channel crime drama docudrama Logo Superheroes Ovation The Purge PBS social media Superheroe Nickelodeon 45 crime thriller documentary facebook Calendar witnail binge Britbox Ghostbusters Martial Arts indie breaking bad Black Mirror TIFF television supernatural nature Classic Film revenge BBC Tarantino Mindy Kaling 20th Century Fox christmas movies 24 frames werewolf canceled talk show TNT APB Horror NBC IFC Films A&E spy thriller Marvel Studios Awards Tour History Star Wars Grammys Teen Musicals Academy Awards Opinion adventure screen actors guild Lifetime Christmas movies dc Stephen King ESPN Amazon Prime 2018 zombie YouTube FX game of thrones Heroines Rocky golden globes VICE Adult Swim directors comics zero dark thirty Apple cooking Dark Horse Comics Musical sequel Fall TV Comic Book Cannes canceled TV shows true crime TV Land PaleyFest period drama Oscars Showtime WGN Tumblr latino 2019 TruTV Apple TV+ Thanksgiving TCA 2017 MSNBC TBS strong female leads YouTube Red Drama Comics on TV Mary Poppins Returns Amazon spinoff CNN cats mutant Elton John Women's History Month YA romance discovery ABC Family New York Comic Con Creative Arts Emmys blockbuster what to watch reboot Cartoon Network Kids & Family President 007 2016 Arrowverse streaming teaser Sci-Fi Crunchyroll HBO Marvel Television TCA Winter 2020 Watching Series Red Carpet Tomatazos serial killer AMC GoT political drama FXX Spectrum Originals Song of Ice and Fire slashers Spike Bravo Certified Fresh GIFs Pop Masterpiece Mary Tyler Moore FOX Brie Larson Film Festival Sundance Now 2015 vampires thriller video Fox News based on movie sag awards Writers Guild of America Christmas Spring TV Syfy cars free movies Amazon Studios BBC America MTV Rock blaxploitation sports dragons SXSW ITV Trailer The Walking Dead rotten movies we love comic transformers First Look Nat Geo award winner robots Polls and Games Best and Worst Captain marvel crime halloween Shudder boxoffice romantic comedy cancelled TV shows VH1 dceu Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Paramount Network singing competition LGBTQ Mystery Warner Bros. Amazon Prime Video Year in Review CBS All Access technology Reality Competition theme song justice league Holiday Schedule Comedy Starz WarnerMedia cancelled television medical drama Rom-Com Summer game show joker south america name the review animated Film The Witch Trophy Talk Cosplay cinemax Sony Pictures Hallmark miniseries E3 Countdown psychological thriller Lifetime psycho Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Sneak Peek screenings Music OWN TCM Television Academy MCU cops Ellie Kemper kids The Arrangement mockumentary natural history casting historical drama harry potter Esquire First Reviews USA Network cults OneApp The CW Vudu Hallmark Christmas movies Photos quibi Comedy Central Turner movie Disney Channel ghosts cartoon A24 DGA hispanic Trivia spanish language Disney Plus E! independent composers Sundance Hulu Awards Character Guide CMT stand-up comedy Election Fantasy Netflix Christmas movies Western Mary poppins travel Tubi Food Network Anna Paquin Valentine's Day GLAAD renewed TV shows Turner Classic Movies Acorn TV space ABC jamie lee curtis Emmys Baby Yoda politics disaster versus Columbia Pictures foreign Reality RT History SundanceTV Binge Guide Paramount See It Skip It TV Disney DC Universe adaptation Universal dogs Interview cancelled TV series Rocketman anthology X-Men crossover Nominations DC Comics Disney+ Disney Plus BET Chernobyl Apple TV Plus Winners Action Lionsgate Disney streaming service NYCC Pixar YouTube Premium police drama Sundance TV Infographic biography Shondaland DC streaming service sitcom DirecTV batman war Pride Month ratings Pirates Biopics dramedy anime Podcast Walt Disney Pictures National Geographic Box Office Toys Lucasfilm Emmy Nominations finale TV renewals 21st Century Fox zombies richard e. Grant Marvel SDCC doctor who Mudbound Premiere Dates USA Holidays Crackle book movies 71st Emmy Awards cancelled TLC spider-man Winter TV Marathons El Rey Family Set visit IFC American Society of Cinematographers Pet Sematary Video Games Super Bowl Quiz Extras Peacock 2020 San Diego Comic-Con children's TV Star Trek CBS science fiction series Country