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Posted on 2/02/07 10:11 PM
Pan's Labyrinth is a Spanish language film set in 1944 Spain during a civil war. It tells the story of young Ofelia (played beautifully by 12-year-old Ivana Baquero) who has a wild imagination spawned by the many fairy tales she reads. When her pregnant mother Carmen (played with strong emotion by Adriadna Gil) decides for them to move to the Spanish country side with her new husband Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez, creating the most ominous figure of the film in Captain Vidal), Ofelia discovers both the darkness of war in the real world, and the dark that can be found in fantasy. Other great performances that need to be mentioned are Maribel Verdu as Mercedes, Captain Vidal's maid, and Doug Jones who plays both the faun Pan who's labyrinth Ofelia stumbles into, and the creepy and disturbing Pale Man, a hideously scary creature that Ofelia encounters that feasts on babies and young children. This film is rated R for launguage, but mostly for the strong gore and violence, and such frightening scenes such as a torture scene and the previously mentioned scene with Pale Man. However, in all of this darkness is a fantastic film, one of the best I've ever seen, and it's written and directed with such craft and beauty by Guillermo del Toro. It also has a great score and wonderful cinematography. But the heart and soul of this film lies in Ofelia, and great credit must be given to the young Ivana Baquero who creates a girl that is mysterious, pretty, adventurous, brave, sad, but above all else is real. It must be said that this year (2006) has proved that Dakota Fanning is becoming obscolete. Baquero, along with Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) and Keke Palmer (Akeelah and the Bee) have shown that child actors can be great without looking like child actors; they can become a character and make them real. See Pan's Labyrinth for yourself and discover that sometimes fantasy and beauty can exist in the cold, dark real world.
P.S.- Soon I'll be posting my Top 10 Films of 2006 list, and with it my award choices if I were an Academy member.