With so much having already been said about this film, on this site in particular, it’s easy to feel very redundant offering up yet another critical take on “Pan’s Labyrinth.” However, with the film only now going into wider release here in the United States, perhaps there is an element of proper timing with this. Whatever the case, I’ll try not to keep you. I’ll stand by the oft-stated point that Guillermo del Toro has not only proven himself as a viable and important cinematic voice, but has created the most resonant film of his vibrant career thus far. This is an undeniable work of real power and soul, dealing with issues of harsh reality, the purpose of fantasy, and how the two can intermingle and co-exist. Del Toro portrays each aspect of the story with equal weight, allowing the Franco-era civil war-torn Spain to exist as the backdrop for his monsters, both fantastic and all too real.
And yet, there is something here that keeps me from flat-out embracing this film. Something I’ve yet to identify (having just seen it prior to this writing). Perhaps it is the vague aloofness that seemed to permeate the ever-blue atmosphere. Maybe it’s the fact that del Toro has created a film that is every bit as frighteningly lucid to the grown-up in me as his “Hellboy” was rip-roaring stimulating to the kid in me. Whatever it is, it is no doubt this very element that will increasingly haunt me and cause me to ponder the various debatable interpretations of the movie. And that is precisely what will garner this film a respectable, and well-earned following for years to come. No, I can’t quite embrace “Pan’s Labyrinth” just yet – but I most certainly do admire it.
- Jim Tudor