Mexican director Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth is a wonderful movie. Really, wonderful is the word for this fantasy tail that nevertheless has so much reality in it. For those who loved Benigni’s Life is Beautiful, we are sure the same feeling will go for Pan’s. Although these might look to be two very different movies, there is in fact endless food for thought that spurs out of both these two great pieces of work. That is because both have skilfully put the viewer in the fading margin that lies between reality and imagination.
The crude events and desolating life of Spanish post-Civil war clash with the smooth and sparkling fantasy world that only little Ofelia, the main character, is able to see. These two layers never find a final resolution all along the story but nonetheless create the whole essence of the plot.
The story of the film starts with Ofelia and her pregnant mother meeting her new stepfather, fascist Captain Vidal. Leftist opponents to the Franchist regime, in the meantime, are secretly building up the resistance movement. In this setting, the little Ofelia embarks in a mythical and fantasy world where her principal interlocutor, a fascinating and somewhat scary faun, engages her into quests and promises that the little girl will take up to regain her original belonging in a supra-natural world.
There would be a lot to talk about to fully understand the deepness of this film. The figure that we really loved is that of the faun. It fully embodies the dimension of a lost original world with which human beings have lost touch and that, ultimately, can only be regained through the path of imagination, faith, innocence and morality. It is actually amazing how a movie is able to make you think about such topics in, nevertheless, the most light and entertaining way.