greg (grysar) wrote,

See Pan's Labyrinth

kamalloy and I saw it last Saturday at the American Film Institute. It's a fairy tale about a young girl in Franco's Spain and it was captivating. The imagery was amazing and the story was exciting and pulled no punches. I would literally call this Guillerano Del Toro's masterpiece and I must say I am now incredibly excited about Hell Boy 2.

My only warning, it is intense. There are some moments where the weak stomached may want to turn away. You will have fair warning when they are coming.

I actually cried at the ending, that doesn't happen too often.

Anyhow things I particularly loved:

  • It didn't sentimentalize the Communist rebels. From what I've read of the Spanish Civil war, the communists were certainly the good guys. However, there were some nasty acts commited by both sides. The key scene for me is the rebels going through and shooting the fallen after a battle. kamalloy had briefly speculated that it showing that they were gritty and doing what was militarily necessary but I don't buy it. That may well be true with killing the Captain had the end in a damn cold way, but it's not true here. Why not? Because tending to the wounded is hard work. The film shows the with the storyline involving the doctor. This isn't DnD and there's no clerics, a wounded person can easily be far more of a drag on a cause than a dead person. This is less of an issue with say a modern U.S. military operation with advanced medicine and a logistical tail to pull people back but that's not the setting. The rebels were killing those men for revenge. This isn't the same as if they'd actually surrendered, but it's still by no means a good or necessary act.
  • Ambiguity without impenitrableness. You can read the ending either way, although it's damn clear that she's dead in our world. I think this is true even if you think that she isn't entirely hallucinating.
  • The moment when the hero and the captain are sitting outside while the mother giving birth. The tension there was incredible.

Points I'm puzzling over

  • How much of the fairy tale world was real? The main indicator is that the mandrake root worked quite effectively. She was able to get into the locked room with the baby. Also both the chalk and the mandrake, unlike the faun, were seen by adults. So by all appearances certain mystical items worked.
  • Why did she pick the left rather than the middle door? What was her reason for ignoring the fairy? She got the knife she was supposed to get, so I'm not sure what it means. Maybe if I look closer at the doors.

My only critiques:

  • Why the hell did she eat those grapes? It just wasn't clear. They should have set up her motivation better. kamalloy pointed out that she had skipped dinner, but that's not enough. I mean the fairies were emphatic about it being a terrible idea. That's her only effing dumb act in the movie.
  • Could the movie have cut away from some of the violence just a bit sooner? I'm not highly critical about this and I think it was very necessary to leave them in long enough to put the viewers on edge. However, I don't really have any expertise at all in knowing when to cut in that sort of situation.

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