Saturday, February 6, 2010

2006 - PAN'S LABYRINTH, updating Hans Christian Anderson's, The Little Match Girl, with lots of blood and violence

The director Guillermo del Toro, is an interesting guy.  He's very talented when it comes to making movies.  He knows how to stage and photograph a scene.  He  is up on the latest technological tricks to integrate special effects with live action.

Del Toro spends a lot of time working on his films to get them perfect.  But story wise he hasn't been exactly aiming for a Citizen Kane or a Schindler's List.

Here is a partial list of his films:

Cronos - a vampire story about a guy trying to destroy mankind.
Blade 2 -  vampires trying to destroy mankind.
Mimic -  giant icky insects living in the sewers trying to destroy mankind.
Hellboy - comic book about a demon from hell fighting off monsters trying to destroy mankind.
Hellboy II - see above, more of the same still trying to destory mankind.

Then there's the film Pan's Labyrinth,  his attempt at sort of respectability by filming a very dark fairy tale.

In Franco's Spain during World War II, a young girl lives in the woods with her mother and evil soldier stepfather.  She meets a fawn who tells her she is the queen of the fairies ( or something like that).  If she fulfills three magical challenges she will live in the fairy world ( or something like that).


The idea appears to be to contrast the fairy world with the cold cruel world of man.  This is really hammered on with the character of the evil step father.  His job is to put down any resistance to the fascist Spanish government.  He goes about this by smashing people in the face with hammers, sawing their limbs off and just generally being an unpleasant guy.


Obviously the fairy world would be a happier place to be, except that world apparently has monsters who like to bite the heads off of cute little fairies and chase cute little girls around as well, that doesn't exactly seem like a fun place to hang out.

As much time and attention as del Toro spends on creating his fantasy world, he probably spends even more time on figuring out ways to show people being shot, stabbed and tortured.  The film was rated "R" when it was released, so going into it I was aware that the film was going to be kind of dark.  However I was unprepared for the level of nastiness that I was about to watch.

I get that the real world can be a harsh and cruel place, I don't need del Toro to tell me that I have cable news.  However in this incredibly pointless film, fairyland isn't much better.

119 minutes.

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