Are any of you a fan of the work of Guillermo del Toro? He’s the man behind a lot of brilliant cinematic work such as the Devil’s Backbone, Crimson Peak, the Shape of Water and the Hellboy movies. An amazing mind to say the least. However, he was also the writer and director of Pan’s Labyrinth which is by far one of my favourite stand-alone movies.
Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark fantasy/soft horror movie set several years after the Spanish Civil War and twists between reality and fantasy and focuses heavily on an overgrown Labyrinth, a faun creature and a young girl named Ofelia.
The story is very heavily influenced by fairy tales, and it shows.
A long time ago, in the underground realm, where there are no lies or pain, there lived a Princess who dreamed of the human world.
There was a fairytale about a Princess whose father is the King of the Underworld. The Princess visits the human world where the sunlight blinds her and the girl loses her memory of her past life. The Princess becomes mortal and she dies in the human world. Her father believed that her spirit would return to the underworld eventually and so he builds labyrinths throughout the human world to act as portals to the underworld when her spirit should wish to return to them.
When Ofelia and her mother move to a remote village in Spain, near a forest and a long forgotten labyrinth, the fairytale comes to life. Ofelia endures many trials at the hands of the mysterious faun and encounters many strange magical creatures which becomes central to the main plot of the movie.
There is a particular creature in the movie that will feature in my nightmares until I die- the Pale Man, a child-eating monster. I was much younger when I saw this movie for the first time, around the age of 12 or so, so a child-eating monster is going to leave a lasting impression especially when it looks like this.
But Pan’s Labyrinth isn’t just a fairytale retelling, far from it. As I mentioned, the story is set shortly after the Spanish Revolution. Ofelia and her pregnant mother move into the remote house with her mother’s new husband, Vidal. There are resistance fighters hiding in the woods, seeking food and medical supplies, and throughout the movie, we see that Vidal is intent to eradicate them. His violent, cruel and quite sadistic nature shows through with some rather violent scenes lending to suggest a psychopathic nature. Vidal is equally as dangerous and disturbing as the creatures of the labyrinth.
You’re getting older, and you’ll see that life isn’t like your fairy tales. The world is a cruel place. And you’ll learn that, even if it hurts.
The innocence of children is beautifully captured and del Toro illustrates that monsters come in all shapes and sizes and exist outside of fairytales and fantasy.
The movie has you gripping the edge of your seat, flinching from the brutality but ultimately has your undivided attention throughout.
But here is the exciting news.
The movie is excellent, no mistaking that. However, it would be even better if there was a novel of the story to better understand and to delve deeper into what cannot be portrayed on screen. Enter Cornelia Funke and Guillermo del Toro.
The two have collaborated on creating a novel of the movie.
Funke, a New York Times bestseller, is known for her own literary wonders such as the Ink Heart Trilogy, the Reckless series and The Theif Lord. The two have created and expanded, additionally layered version of the movie itself (this should tell you the age range that it would be directed towards). With Guillermo del Toro’s imagination and Funke’s turn of phrase, the novel fills in the blanks left out by the movie. The ARC reviews of the book so far have been overwhelmingly positive so I have so much hope for the end result. To top the whole thing off, the covers for the book are gorgeous (particularly the American edition) but I would have been happy even with a movie cover.
You shouldn’t come in here. You could get lost. It has happened before. I’ll tell you the story one day, if you want to hear it.
The novel that was inspired by the film will be released on July 2nd 2019 and I couldn’t be more excited.
Until next time.