Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Yet another glowing review for the movie. I don't think we've gotten any negatives yet, but I guess since I just wrote that I'm inviting a few. I've met a few people that have seen this film and all across the board they love it, in some cases even more than I do. This really is a winner, guys. Here's the newest word!
Hello, I contributed with an unfortunate account of the disappointing Alatriste a month or so ago, and am compelled to write again, in a much happier disposition. I know this site has been swamped with reviews for this movie from festivals and such, but I saw Pan’s Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno) twice in cinemas yesterday, and for what it's worth, I am here to tell you about it. But how could that be? It doesn’t come out until December! Nope, in Spain (Barcelona, more precisely) it came out on October 11th, so lucky us. I’ve been introduced to Guillermo del Toro’s films from last to first, one could say (with Cronos being the exception, I haven’t seen it yet). I first saw Mimic, then Blade 2, then Hellboy, then the Devil’s Backbone, and now finally Pan’s Labyrinth. I’ve been lucky in a way, because in that order, I think they only get better. I’m afraid I don’t have any surprises or shocking views on the film. Pretty much everyone so far has said it is a masterpiece, and I’m not going to argue. Although my first viewing almost ruined the experience. At one point in the movie (the stuttering scene for those who have seen it, I’m not spoiling anything here, don’t worry) the top twenty inches or so of the image started playing at the bottom of the frame, so I ran out and asked them to fix it. They did, but not all the way. I had to see the rest of the film with sometimes some air missing at the top of frame, sometimes as much as including the eyes of certain characters. It was highly annoying, especially because I asked them to fix it again and they waved me off saying it was probably some special effect that made the image go like that. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions (and miss more of the film) but when I saw the movie again at a different cinema chain, I was correct, I had been watching the film with a foot or so missing at the top. So thanks Yelmo Cineplex, you’re no longer the number 1 international cinema chain. Why do I mention this detail? Because watching the film, what struck me the most (besides the expertly told story, the fantastic actors who some other reviewer will probably analyse with more expertise, and the beautiful art direction, make-up, effects, and cinematography) was how everything seemed so controlled, so planned, so… I hesitate to use the word perfect. But every shot is exquisitely framed, and nothing, absolutely nothing in this film goes to waste. Every moment has meaning (although I wouldn’t go looking for it while you watch it) and every scene is utterly important for the film as a whole. In a way, that surprises me because it becomes quite paradoxical. Despite oozing with class, confidence and control, with strong and decisive editing, the movie is quite instinctive. It never seems pre determined (despite the beginning of the film trying to make us think differently). It seems wholly organic, and I think a better word to use would emotional. Pan’s Labyrinth is such a labour of love, melodrama at its finest, that it seeps through in every moment. Del Toro has certainly shown us that he’s capable of humanizing monsters and monsterizing (not that it’s a word) humans, but with the nuance that it’s done with in this film, I’ve hardly ever seen. He has definitely taken some of the greatest quiet moments of Hellboy (some of the imagery even reminds me a little of it), and the style of Devil’s Backbone and crafted a film even stronger than the two put together. I would suggest all of you preparing to see this whenever you may see it, to not go in with expectations of what the story may be or how much fairy tale there is or action or violence or whatever. Don’t go in asking Del Toro to tell you a story you want to hear. Ask him to tell you the story HE wants to tell, and let it wash over you. A word of advice: this is not a children’s film, like many have said before. In Spain it’s recommended from 18 years, just so you know. You may have noticed that I have not tried to define the film or give you a synopsis. That’s because this movie defies definition. It’s not simply a fantasy or melodrama, or a metaphorical film, or a war film or an historical movie. Modifying Louis Armstrong’s famous quote slightly, I will say that there are good movies and bad movies. This is a good movie. And beyond that, it is a movie about love, about mortality and innocence, good and evil. It is a story about the beauty and horror of life, of family, duty, and of destiny. But most of all, it is simply a story about a girl. A girl who, like all girls, was a princess. Enjoy this cinematic gift. And treasure it well. - H