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Anyone seen Pan's Labyrinth?

Jason Menard
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Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
What did you think? I just watched it the other day and I have to say it blew me away. Easily the best movie I've seen from last year. Guillermo del Toro has perfected his art and has to now be considered right up there with Peter Jackson.
Naveen K Garg
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Joined: Nov 28, 2005
Posts: 105
Yes, its a very good movie considering the fact that there are two stories in a single movie. Specially the role of Captain and the little girl.
John Smith
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Joined: Oct 08, 2001
Posts: 2937
Very well made movie, I really liked it. I don't think it was released in the major theaters, though. I saw it in a little artsy place. It's unfortunate that most people would probably never see it.
Sonny Gill
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Joined: Feb 02, 2002
Posts: 1211

Oh yeah, I was spellbound.
Such a pity I had to see it on the DVD, would have loved watching it on the big screen.
Paul Sturrock
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Joined: Apr 14, 2004
Posts: 10336

A fantastic film. I loved the way that the ending could either be wonderfully happy or dreadfully sad depending on how you interpreted the rest of the film (genuine fantastic tale, or a little girl escaping into her own book-based fantasy world to avoid the horrors of reality).


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stephen gates
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Joined: Apr 30, 2007
Posts: 69
I thought it was going to be a bit different than it was but it was ok. I wasn't impressed by it. Could have been a lot better, but for what it was, it had its moments.
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Paul Sturrock:
A fantastic film. I loved the way that the ending could either be wonderfully happy or dreadfully sad depending on how you interpreted the rest of the film (genuine fantastic tale, or a little girl escaping into her own book-based fantasy world to avoid the horrors of reality).


Unfortunately I'm thinking the latter was the case.
Jim Yingst
Wanderer
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Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
Thanks to Jason for reminding me this is now out on DVD. I bumped it to the top of my Netflix queue, and saw it over the weekend. Fantastic. Watched it again for the director's commentry, which was fairly detailed, going into the themes and symbolism he was trying to set up.

As for the ending... well, if I take a realistic view of the movie, it reminded me of the movie Brazil. The real version, of course, not the original US edit. But on reflection, I think there are a number of indications that the magic isn't just in Ofelia's head. Like the effect of the mangrove root cultiated under the mother's bed. She mysteriously got better after it was put there, and later got suddenly worse when it was burned. Or what about Ofelia's strange ability to vanish from a dead end in the labyrinth? Or her ability to get past a bunch of guards into the Captain's study? (Through the door drawn by her magic chalk.) What about the chalk itself, whihc the Captain later held in his hand? These were all things explained by the magical world, which were witnessed by people other than Ofelia. I do think the film was designed to be ambiguous, supporting either interpretation - but I don't think the magic can be easily dismissed as just in her head.

Doug Jones, who played the Faun, agreed to be in the movie after reading an English translation of the script. Only later did he discover that all hs lines would be in Spanish, which he did not speak. Though the director would've been OK with him just saying the lines phonetically, Jones put a lot of effort into learning Spanish ASAP for authenticity. Of course, I can't really judge how good the result was. But it's a nice idea, at least.

Now my Netflix queue includes The Devil's Backbone, another film from the same director set in the Spanish Civil War, and Y Tu Mama Tambien, another film with Maribel Verd´┐Ż, the actress who played Mercedes. Yes, I'm smitten.


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Gregg Bolinger
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
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    6

I watched it last night. I enjoyed it. My wife didn't.


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Jason Menard
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Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
JY: Now my Netflix queue includes The Devil's Backbone

Another great movie! I think the director considers it a companion to Pan's Labyrinth, although the only similarity seems to be the setting.
Jim Yingst
Wanderer
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Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
Well, the Spanish Civil War setting, and the main character being approximately the same age, discovering a world that mixes fantasy and reality, is that right?

Guillermo del Toro talks about this in his commentary. He considers them companion pieces, but one is not a sequel of the other. He had planned to do something like Pan's Labyrinth shortly after The Devil's Backbone, but then the 9-11 attacks occurred and changed how he looked at the world, causing him to delay the followup while he thought about it more. He ended up setting Pan's Labyrinth five years later, after the changes of the Spanish Civil War had had their effect on life in Spain. The war was really ending in The Devil's Backbone; five year's later the Nationalists are very much in charge, but there are isolated groups of rebels. del Toro sees the two movies as views of life before and after the societal change that came from the war, with some parallels to before and after 9-11.

Or something like that. I'm just going by memory of what he said, not having seen the first movie.
Paul Sturrock
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Joined: Apr 14, 2004
Posts: 10336


Or what about Ofelia's strange ability to vanish from a dead end in the labyrinth? Or her ability to get past a bunch of guards into the Captain's study? (Through the door drawn by her magic chalk.) What about the chalk itself, whihc the Captain later held in his hand?

I wondered about that; I suspect it could be explained by a child's ability to go unoticed by adults in general, particularaly when the adults have something more important to concentrate on. The mandrake root is harder to explain.

I have to say the ambiguity was one of my favourite features of the film. If there was anything in there that conclusively pushed the film one way or the other I think it would be not nearly as good as it is.
Dave Lenton
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Joined: Jan 20, 2005
Posts: 1241
Also many of the scenes where the "magic" happens are from Ophelia's point of view, so it could be possible that she's imaging them. For example, she may have seen her mother get better and imagined that she'd had something to do with it.


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Jim Yingst
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Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
[Dave]: Also many of the scenes where the "magic" happens are from Ophelia's point of view, so it could be possible that she's imaging them.

Yes, that's the main idea we're considering, isn't it? The vast majority of the magic is witnessed only by Ofelia. I was looking at the exceptions, things apparently seen by others that indicated something might be going on besides Ofelia's imagination.

[Dave]: For example, she may have seen her mother get better and imagined that she'd had something to do with it.

But we saw her being told about what to do with the mandrake root, and placing it under the bed, before we saw the mother get better. And we saw the mandrake root removed from under the bed and thrown in the fire before we saw the mother suddenly get worse. The latter was witnessed by the Captain as well. Some details like the squealing and writhing of the mandrake root were seen only by Ofelia, but I'm pretty sure there was a mandrake root under the bed, it was removed and burned, and then the mother got worse.

Are we being shown Ofelia's retroactive imaginings about what happened in the past? I suppose that could be the case, as at the very beginning we see her lying on the ground dying - maybe the entire movie is her imaginings of the events that led to that? In which case we can't really trust anything we're shown, can we? Including various scenes of the Captain and other characters when Ofelia's not around? That would seem a bit much, to me. I prefer to assume that things seen by other characters are definitely real, and things seen by Ofelia are either real or imagined by her at that time, not retroactively imagined based on info she obtained later.

It is still possible to imagine other explanations. For example, the mother may have suddenly gotten worse because (a) she'd just gotten up after being bedridden, and (b) she was agitated by the argument with her daughter and the Captain. For escaping from the dead end in the layrinth, maybe she actually scrambled over a wall, or found a small gap somewhere that was overlooked by the larger Captain. As Paul indicated, it's ambiguous, and this ambiguity is intentional. I'm just saying there are several incidents that seem suspiciously improbable to me without some other force at work, and so I favor the "it's magic" explanation. Within the context of the movie, of course.
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Having watched all the extras on the DVD, I had gotten the impression from Del Toro that it was probably in her head. I could have been reading more inyo his words than was there though. I thought one indicator that it was in her head was the bit about the bug changing to look like the faerie in the book. Also the fact that the mandrake root was shrieking as it burned, but the adults didn't seem to pay that any attention or otherwise think it was odd, unless of course adults just can't see that stuff. Still, the ambiguity is part of what makes the movie so great.
Dave Lenton
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Joined: Jan 20, 2005
Posts: 1241
Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
But we saw her being told about what to do with the mandrake root, and placing it under the bed, before we saw the mother get better. .....

Are we being shown Ofelia's retroactive imaginings about what happened in the past?
I think there could have been an element of retroactive imaginings, even if only from a short time after the event. Given the strangeness of what happens to her, I'm not sure we can trust Ofelia as a reliable witness. In which case, perhaps the only totally truthful scenes are those which don't involve her, although it could be possible, like you said, that the whole thing is what she imagines when she dies.

I guess this ambiguity is one of the best things about the film - like all good films, it keeps you thinking about it after you've finished watching it.
Jim Yingst
Wanderer
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Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
[Jason]: Having watched all the extras on the DVD, I had gotten the impression from Del Toro that it was probably in her head.

Really? I could swear he said the opposite. I just got disc 1 of 2 from Netflix, which didn't have most of the DVD featurettes. But it did have the audio commentary from del Toro, which I listened to in its entirety. At one point, I think it was near the end of the movie, looking at the flower, he said something to the effect that you could interpret it either way, but for him, the magic was real. He also commented on Ofelia getting into the Captain's office, and the Captain getting the chalk, as key evidence that it was real I remember that because those were two bits I had overlooked; I had thought the business with the mother getting better and then worse, plus Ofelia's escape from the dead end, were the main evidence.

[Jason]: I thought one indicator that it was in her head was the bit about the bug changing to look like the faerie in the book.

I can see where that at least helps suggest that interpretation, yes. But it can also just be a magic ability the faerie had. In legends of faeries, it's not uncommon that they can change their appearance.

[Jason]: Also the fact that the mandrake root was shrieking as it burned, but the adults didn't seem to pay that any attention or otherwise think it was odd, unless of course adults just can't see that stuff.

Those same two possibilities are also suggested by the scene where the Captain comes upon Ofelia talking to the faun, and the Captain can't see the faun at all. But again, it's not uncommon in tales of magical beings that some people can see them and some can't. Perhaps the split is between adults and children, or based on some other attribute like open-mindedness or having ingested magic pixie dust. And del Toro comments on this scene spcifically, saying that he knows some people think this proves that the faun isn't really there, but as far as he's concerned it just shows that the Captain can't see the faun. I think he said "the faun isn't in his head". The same would apply to the burning of the mangrove, I think.

[Jason]: Still, the ambiguity is part of what makes the movie so great.

Agreed.
Sergio Tridente
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Joined: Mar 22, 2007
Posts: 329

Yes, I agree with all of you. The movie is fantastic.

Regarding the debate to whether everything was in her head or in reality... Well, that's the beauty of the film. I like thinking that both are true at the same time. Like when a word means two 'apparently' different things at the same time and both meanings are correct.

Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
Doug Jones, who played the Faun, agreed to be in the movie after reading an English translation of the script. Only later did he discover that all hs lines would be in Spanish, which he did not speak. Though the director would've been OK with him just saying the lines phonetically, Jones put a lot of effort into learning Spanish ASAP for authenticity. Of course, I can't really judge how good the result was. But it's a nice idea, at least.


I can tell you he was great (Spanish is my mother language). He sounded really Spanish to me.


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