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Posted on 3/06/11 10:59 AM
Every once in a while you finish a film and sit in one spot for several minutes just trying to comprehend the masterpiece you just finished. This was my reaction to this gorgeously sad and genuinely frightening movie. Writer/director Guillermo Del Toro had previously shown considerable aptitude making wholly enjoyable films like the completely fun Hellboy but nothing could have prepared me for the perfection of "Pan's Labyrinth"
Ivana Baquero, the young actress who play's Ofelia the protagonist, grounds the film with her quiet but strong performance. The rest of the cast gives good performances but Sergi Lopez as the sociopathic Captain Vidal steals every scene he's in. Lopez is terrifyingly believable as a man who has no concern for human life, as witnessed by an early scene having to do with rabbits that might be one of the most frightening scenes ever shot.
This is being pitched as an adults fairytale, which it is, but it's so much more then that. It's a meditation on death, life after death, and escaping from the harsh realities of life. Although she attempts to escape from the frightening world she lives in this is not an escapist piece. Ofelia attempts to escape the fascism by entering the Labyrinth but all the Labyrinth brings her is more gloom and doom. The end is dizzyingly sad but also hopeful and beautiful. It's a perfect way to bookend a truly perfect piece of art.