I genuinely adore the next guest blogger. She's one of the smartest, funniest and most passionate people I've met on this internet thingy. To top it all off, she's been kind enough to write a post about a film which I think is an absolute masterpiece. Ladies and gentlemen, Nilli Williamson.
The moment I see the words ‘dark fairy-tale’ describing a film, in my head I have already decided I will watch it. Pan’s labyrinth is exactly that. It addresses some truly deep issues, in particular violence and a complete lack of respect for innocent human life. Not to mention how it manages the encapsulation of a bully, albeit in a setting of war, but still gets to possibly the darkest side of the issue. Set in the Spanish Civil war, I didn’t really relish the fact it was going to be a film with subtitles however, this film drew me in right from the outset with the fairy-tale start:
“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. She dreamed of blue skies, soft breeze, and sunshine”
For me that was enough to grab my attention, I was in.
I often wonder about the writer of a film or a book, and when it comes to the horror genre Guillermo del Toro simply fascinates me - its like he is in this film offering a beautiful escape from hell. An escape that requires effort nonetheless.
The little girl, Ofelia, is the heroine of the story and she is an astute and feisty creature, who will do whatever it takes to remove the wickedness from around her and those she loves, and fights to protect her unborn brother. She is offered 3 challenges that she readily accepts all of which have an end result of death should she fail, yet she forges on with them all in the hope that success awaits.
The character of the faun is the kingpin, the constant in the film, he is for Ophelia the guiding light. However, what is fascinating is that he is initially quite scary, as you would expect for a young girl who has descended down a secret path away from her mother, yet she very quickly realises that he is offering her a way out of the hell she is living. Ophelia has the smarts to go with her gut and put her complete trust in the creature. His voice and gentle temperament, despite his scary face, I think offers the viewer comfort and reassurance that she will be okay in his hands.
It’s no wonder this film won 3 Oscars, not only the amazing storyline but the exquisite graphics and creatures in the film are truly captivating. From the faun himself to the pale man who raises the hairs on the back of the neck once he starts to move, placing his eyeballs into the palms of his hands, he could quite easily be a character from the Silent Hill horror movies. The fairies too are not in any way like Tinkerbell from the Peter Pan story, they too have the horror effect and whilst they help Ophelia, they are not cute nor sweet.
The story is ultimately one that describes pain and the battle to escape it, the character of Mercedes is a sad one as she fights so hard to defy the Captain, and I think you will her on and hope beyond hope that she is successful in her fight, but also deep down you just know the inevitable will happen. This is yet another pivotal character in the film and I have the greatest admiration for this brave woman of whom so many of us can probably relate to.
The other element in this film is the ‘lessons’ we can learn - such as not choosing the obvious and simplest path, learning to fight the battles you can win, keeping enemies close and protecting those you love. It’s a film that whilst dark and delves into the sadistic, also offers hope and reminds us that our childhood is probably the driver for everything that we do.
I have watched this film over and over and will keep watching.