Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

pans labyrinth poster 2006 movie guillermo del toro
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great visuals, strong acting, good story


Movie Info

Movie Name: Pan’s Labyrinth

Studio: Tequila Gang, Estudio Picasso, Telecinco Cinema

Genre(s): Drama/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s): October 11, 2006

MPAA Rating: R


Nothing could go wrong with a crazy nutso stepfather and a civil war…right?

Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) travel to the Spanish countryside in 1944 to join Carmen’s new husband Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez) as he hunts down Spanish rebels who are fighting against the fascist regime.  Ofelia finds herself retreating into a fantasy world where she is Princess Moanne…but is it really a fantasy?

Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, Pan’s Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno aka The Labyrinth of the Faun) is a fantasy drama.  The film was released to critical acclaim and received Academy Award for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Makeup with nominations for Best Original Score, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Foreign Language Film.  It received a Criterion Collection release (Criterion #838).

Guillermo del Toro’s Spanish movies seem to always have the extra push that makes them better than the English speaking movies he’s made.  The Hellboy movies are fun, but they don’t live up to this or The Devil’s Backbone.  It feels like he is more intimate with the sources since he wrote both of them, and it shows in both movies.   Pan’s Labyrinth feels like a perfect coming together of Guillermo del Toro and his visionary style.


It probably would have been easier to put the eyeballs in my head

The story of Pan’s Labyrinth plays out as a fairy tale.  Ofelia cannot cope with what she is seeing during the war and creates a fantasy world of a princess to escape her abusive stepfather.  Instead of being a straight fantasy, Guillermo begins to blend reality and the fantasy and leaves you questioning if Ofelia’s visions could be true…which is horrifying and heartwarming considering the story’s outcome.

The cast for the movie is strong.  Ivana Baquero has a lot on her shoulders while carrying the movie but she succeeds by giving the film a lot of heart.  While Ariadna Gil plays the seemingly spineless mother who has actually given up everything to keep herself and her daughter alive, Sergi Lopez is great as the sadistic man threatening to destroy their family and Ofelia’s world.  I also really like the performance by Meribel Verdu who previously made a big splash in Y Tu Mama Tambien and is taking all the risks as a spy among the soldiers.

The movie is visually rich and owes a lot of its credit to Doug Jones.  Jones plays both the Pale Man and Pan in the film and the actor’s unique, lanky physique and acting style create two horrifying creatures.  While the labyrinth could be an escape for Ofelia, it is also a danger that could kill her.  Even in a fantasy world, the story is dark and the threat is unescapable.


Ma’am…I don’t feel this is going to end well

The movie is very visually rich.  It sometimes is hard to read the subtitles because you don’t want to miss any of the scenery.  Even the very basic woods are very cinematic.  The movie also owes a lot to Doug Jones who inhabits the Faun and the Pale Man, making them very creepy figures in the dark story.  His tall lanky body brings the two creatures to life and his movements make them feel real.

I love modern telling of fairy tales and Pan’s Labyrinth is a great example of how good storytelling, great acting, and amazing visuals can come together.  The movie is dark and definitely not for children, but it does seem to capture that special fear and magic that made fairy tales almost real when you were young.  If you missed Pan’s Labyrinth when it was released, seek it out now and see some of Guillermo’s most powerful work.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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