Cinema, more than any other medium, can give you a window into the world of someone other than yourself. For that reason, we should all take time out of our lives to view foreign films. The cinema of other nations is often illuminating as to their people’s mindset. One great Mexican-Spanish film is the 2006 masterpiece, “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

 

This film, directed by Guillermo del Toro, concerns a young girl named Ofelia. Living during the Spanish Civil War, Ofelia’s mother has recently married a cruel, domineering Captain in the Spanish military. Along with her mother and soon-to-be-born sibling, she moves to an outpost on the edge of rebel-occupied territory. There, Ofelia happens upon a fantastic, magical labyrinth guarded by an ancient creature called a faun. This faun believes Ofelia to be the lost princess of the underworld, and he asks her to complete three tasks, which take her to some strange, wonderful, and dangerous places.

 

Del Toro is an incredible director who know how to interweave fantasy and reality better than just about anyone else working today. “Pan’s Labyrinth” is clearly a parable for the Spanish Civil War, and had I been more educated on that conflict, I am sure I would have enjoyed this film much more than I did — which was already a lot. His work on the screenplay earned him an Academy Award nomination, and the story he tells is one of the best in the history of the genre.

 

Visually, the film is stunning. Del Toro’s knack for practical effects and his great camera make for a film that is constantly beautiful. Even if you are not at all invested in the story, you will be entertained just by looking at this intensely gorgeous film. “Pan’s Labyrinth” ended up winning Oscars for Cinematography, Art Direction, and Make-up.

 

Ivana Baquero gives a great performance as Ofelia, considering she is a child actor. She is in just about every scene, and much of the movie is carried on her back. This was a role that called on all of her talents, and she really delivered. Actors Sergi Lopez and Maribel Verdu also do a good job in their respective supporting roles.

 

“Pan’s Labyrinth” was a film I did not catch up with until a while after its release. Immediately after seeing it, though, it was impossible to deny its greatness. It is right up there with “Lord of the Rings” and “Princess Mononoke” as the best fantasy film ever made. Whenever I recommend a foreign film, this is the one I suggest. More than any other that I have seen, it has the sort of appeal that spans borders and language barriers.- 4/4

 

Have you seen “Pan’s Labyrinth?” What did you think? Let me know in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter @TuckerPoikonen