A dear friend of mine borrowed me this movie, as I hadn’t seen it – and wanted to – and it is his favorite movie of all time. I can see why; he’s an artist, and this movie is an art lover’s dream. It is beautiful, magical, brutal, horrifying, all at the same time.
In Spain, 1944, a young girl named Ofelia and her pregnant mother arrive at the home of her new husband, a cruel army officer who is in the middle of trying to quell a guerrilla uprising. A lover of fantasy stories, she explores an ancient maze on the property and encounters a faun named Pan, who tells her she is a long-lost princess and that she must complete three dangerous tasks to achieve immortality. It is directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim, Hellboy, The Strain) and stars an almost entirely Spanish cast. The dialogue is in Spanish, with English subtitles.
Del Toro is known for his horror/dark fantasy art style, but what surprised me is the fact that it wasn’t the fantasy and fairy underworld scenes that were the most frightening. Those were intricate, and a wonder to behold. The scariest scenes were the ones set in real life, as Captain Vidal ruthlessly hunts the army who opposes him, and doesn’t care who he hurts – or kills. There are many violent scenes in this movie, and they are absolutely brutal; there is one scene in particular that involves stitches that I could barely watch (although it didn’t help that I was recovering from the stomach flu). The story is sad at points, but ultimately uplifting. It’s definitely a story that has stuck with me after watching it, which doesn’t happen that often – I think the last one I couldn’t get out of my head for days was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
If you somehow missed this movie when it came out in theaters, seek it out now. It is well worth two hours of time!