Guillermo del Toro creates an operatically beautiful fantasy world for a girl escaping the all too real brutalities of fascist Spain in 1944.

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  • PAN'S LABYRINTH Alternative

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“A film to return to, like a country waiting to be explored: a maze of dead ends and new life.”
Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 2007

Sadism and savagery may rule the waking life of ten-year-old Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) – sent to live with her new stepfather, the brutal Captain Vidal (Sergi López) – but a fairytale existence spawned by her reading gives her an alternate night-time existence as a princess set three tasks by a mysterious faun.

The tug-of-war between the ordinary and extraordinary is the rich theme at the heart of director Guillermo del Toro’s other films, including Cronos (1993), The Devil’s Backbone (2001) and his two Hellboy comic-book adaptations (2004 and 2008), but here it finds its ultimate expression as fantasy provides shelter from unspeakable reality.

The film won Oscars for cinematography, art direction and make-up, but controversially lost out as Best Foreign Language Film to Stefan Ruzowitsky’s holocaust drama The Counterfeiters (2006).

With its story of a girl taking refuge in fantasy from the reality of unhappy families in Franco’s Spain, Pan’s Labyrinth recalls Victor Erice’s classic The Spirit of the Beehive (1973).

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