Monday, June 04, 2007
Hang on. This post will be rambling, large, and lacking in depth
and clarity - kind of like Rosie on The View.
I finally saw Pan's Labyrinth, which while visually
stunning, suffers from the fatal flaw that Guillermo Del Torro
had, until this point, avoided in previous films, and that is to
fall into the temptation of trying to reach profundity, and falling
very short of the mark.
The "Labyrinth", a term which was often used to describe Franco's
Spain, is the central theme throughout the movie, as a Labyrinth also
serves as the escape mechanism of the film's protagonist, Ofelia (Ivana
The fairy tale in which Ofelia immerses herself, runs as a sort
of allegorical parallel marking pre, present, and post Franco Spain.
The dilemma with Mr. Del Torro's weighty subject matter is that
it suffers from a certain post-modernist pretension that has run amok
in modern cinema - that being the tendency to sacrifice character
development, and/or plot, with audio and visual wizardry. We are
expected to accept the sacrifices of Ofelia's mother, (remarrying the
crazed Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez), after the death of her husband,
a tailor whose death we are left no clues with), without any explanation
other than the overall implication that this is post civil war Spain, and
Franco's Spain is a rather brutal and bleak place.
So to, are we to accept the sociopathic cruelty of Captain Vidal, who
makes Ted Bundy look like a cuddly teddy bear.
And perhaps, this is not entirely, a bad thing. Hollywood buys heavily
into the mythology of moral relativism, and it was somewhat
refreshing to find a movie that was bold enough not to blur the lines
between good and evil, but still within the confines of fairly safe
subject matter for the left minded intelligentsia. If only Stephen
Spielberg had been so bold in Munich!
I won't spoil the plot, but the theme of fathers, and fatherlessness runs deep,
as well as some rather daft pot shots at the Catholic church, in the form
of an emaciated, eyeless monster, who sits at a table filled with a rich
feast from which no others can eat. The imagery is creepy and effective,
but also was somewhat offensive, given the monster is also afflicted with
I have to recommend Pan's Labyrinth for it's cinematic beauty, and
the haunting musical score composed by Javier Navarette. Just remember,
this is NOT a children's movie. It is graphically violent. If you show this to
your kids, be prepared to pay for 10 years of on going therapy!
Posted by Joe Leger at 2:18 PM