The film Pan's Labyrinth is a Mexican film in Spanish language and based in Spain. The motion picture was released in 2006. It was written and directed by Guillermo del Torro, a world renowned film maker. The cast comprises of Ivana Baquero who plays the lead role of Ofelia the character whom the story revolves about. Doug Jones playing the role of Faun, also known as Pale Man in the film, Sergi Lopez I Ayats as the brusque and deranged Captain Vidal and Maribel Verdu as Mercedes, Vidal's enigmatic and secretive housekeeper. Ariadna Gil plays the role of Carmen, Ofelia's mother and Vidal's wife, Alex Angulo as the doctor Ferreiro and Roger Casamajor as Pedro, Mercedes' temperamental brother. Also in the cast are Mannolo Solo, Cesar Vea, Federico Luppi and Pablo Adan.
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The film opens with a narration of Ofelia's past. She is an underground princess who left her home to explore the world above. The story then takes us to post civil war Spain. The year is 1944 and Ofelia and her mother Carmen are travelling in a lone motor vehicle in Spanish countryside. They are on their way to meet the Father of Carmen's unborn child and Ofelia's stepfather, Captain Vidal. He is a fascist loyal but brutal Captain in charge of an army regiment based at an abandoned mill in the Country. The regiment is charged with rooting out the resistance posed by rebels. Ofelia and her Carmen adjust to their new home though Carmen's pregnancy is well advanced. Ofelia seeks refuge in a neighboring old and neglected garden shown to her by Mercedes, their sympathetic and friendly house keeper. This garden becomes Ofelia's haven from all the chaos around her.
Ofelia's love for fairy tales is evident early in the film and the story takes a fairy tale theme intertwined with the harsh and brutal reality of the world she is living in. She finds a friend and companion in a flying stick insect. Mercedes and the doctor are in collaboration with the rebels. Ofelia discovers this one evening after she overheard them. Later that night, Ofelia wakes up from sleep and is led by the stick insect down the winding path that leads into the labyrinth. She meets a Faun who acknowledges that she is the reincarnation of the princess Moanna. He gives her a book, known as the book of Crossroads. The book should help her complete three tasks to enable her to return to the underground realm and her father.
While Ofelia is completing these tasks, her mother is bed ridden and bleeding profusely. Vidal is only interested in the unborn child who will be his heir. He confronts the doctor and orders him that in any eventuality he is to save the child. In a drastic turn of events, Carmen dies in child birth. She delivers a healthy baby boy. Captain Vidal shoots Ofelia in the abdomen and is killed by Mercedes' brother soon afterwards. In sacrificing her own life, Ofelia completes her last task and is reunited with her father and mother in the underground realm.
The film is a carefully crafted fairy tale that combines the fragile emotions, perceptions and ambitions of a young child with the unforgiving ruthless and painful world around her. Her experiences are too brutal for a child her age. I therefore find the child's escape into her world of fantasy as a necessity. The film invokes mixed feelings from rage to empathy, curiosity and even sorrow. It could be viewed as a political protest relayed through fantasy. The film portrays the true nature of fascism embodied in Captain Vidal's character.
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