Tuesday 18th January 2022

Pan's Labyrinth (15)
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

Set during the Second World War, Pan's Labyrinth is the story of Ofelia, a small Spanish girl who loves to read fairytales. Her father was a tailor who died, and her mother has married a Captain in Franco's Fascist army. He is a cruel, arrogant and efficient leader who has very little regard for his new bride and even less for her daughter.

He's got his eyes in front of him. That's never a good sign
He's got his eyes in front of him. That's never a good sign

As you can probably tell, between the broken family and the brutal war that rages around her, Ofelia isn't having the best time. But things start to look up for her when she follows a fairy to a secret labyrinth, where she meets a Faun. The Faun tells her she is really Princess Moenna, the daughter of the King of the Underworld, and if she completes three tasks, she can take her rightful place on the throne by the King's side.

However, things are not that simple in Guillermo del Toro's incredibly dark fairytale. The fairy Ofelia follows, for example, looks like an extremely vicious and unpleasant looking insect. The film itself deals as much with the atrocities of the civil war as it does Ofelia's adventure, and it is purposely ambiguous as to whether the creatures she encounters exist only in her imagination.

The cinematography of the film is as dark as its content, with so much colour drained from the film at times it is tantamount to black and white. There is more than enough violence, blood and grotesque, slimy, scary creatures in this film to easily earn its certificate, and I don't think I'm alone in wondering how it escaped an 18 rating.

Overall, this film is excellent. It's scary and twisted and del Toro has really brought to life a vivid and disturbing story that is well worth watching. It's essentially a grown-up and darker version of Labyrinth or MirrorMask, but it is not the delightful, cheerful tale of a magical wonderland that you might be expecting. It is also in del Toro's mother tongue, Spanish, with English subtitles, but you shouldn't let that put you off seeing this very well-made film.

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Length: 119 minutes
Certificate: 15
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 24th November 2006

Top Five Rating: 80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0% (80.0%)
User Rating: 97.5%97.5%97.5%97.5%97.5%97.5%97.5%97.5%97.5%97.5% (97.5%)

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