Guillermo del Toro's latest film comes as something of a welcome antidote to the reams of Christmas cinema schmaltz heading your way fast. Pan's Labyrinth is a fairytale that unwittingly leads you into the dark heart of imagination. Ofelia is a young girl taken to the remote Spanish hills so she and her heavily pregnant mother can join her stepfather, who is leading a military operation to quash rebels following Franco's triumph in 1944. In her unhappiness she retreats into the world of gothic fable. Here the eponymous Faun promises her an escape from reality into the labyrinth (of which she is destined to be queen) if she completes three tasks. The tasks have a brilliantly choreographed inventiveness, the kind that rests on the sinister underbelly of the imaginary. Each task is risky, climaxing with the threat of a hideous child-eater, waiting for his next meal at a banqueting table behind a door Ofelia draws in chalk. This is a nightmare vision of epic proportions. Despite this, the film's fantastical magic lends the adventure (if you can call it that) an ethereal beauty and seductive appeal. It's a strange film with no neat conclusion -- take advantage of this director's talk, we urge you.
NB: Pan's Labyrinth is released in London on 24/11.
Official Website: http://www.bfi.org.uk/incinemas/nft/
Added by wurzeltod on November 11, 2006