A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, while this gorgeous, subtitled Spanish fantasy-drama focuses on an 11-year-old girl's experience, it's not meant for children. It's full of mature themes and violent scenes (including the bloody death of a child) -- in fact, it opens on the face of a child who has been hurt, her mouth bleeding. The villain is a captain in the fascist military who repeatedly brutalizes others: He berates his wife, threatens his stepdaughter, kills villagers (beating them and shooting point-blank), and tortures his servant. Weapons include guns, knives, and grenades; some violent acts are explicit on screen (pain and bloody wounds visible). Some of the creatures Ofelia meets are frightening: The giant toad, the Faun, and the Pale Man are all strange, noisy, and physically threatening. Language includes two uses of "f--k."
- Parents say
- Kids say
Well, to others this may seem a bit mature for smaller kids, whereas I think it's great for kids 4 and up, that's my opinion. I grew up on horror, though I wouldn't let my child near many of the movies I saw at that age I believe fairy tales are meant to have that dark, creepy edge that this film has: the creepy character designs, the odd habits, the frightening looking labyrinth itself. This all adds to a child's imagination, I probably would've never become an artist if it weren't for a lot of what I grew up on. The stuff that makes you think visually and story-wise outside of the box. Would I let a four year old watch Robocop? No, but Pan's Labyrinth? Yes.
What's the story?
In 1944, 11-year-old Ofelia (the phenomenal Ivana Baquero) is traveling with her pregnant mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil), en route to her new stepfather's military outpost in Northern Spain. But Capitán Vidal (Sergi López) has no interest in Ofelia or even her mother -- all he cares about is passing on his name and legacy to the son Carmen carries. Luckily for Ofelia, she meets Mercedes (Maribel Verdú), Vidal's housekeeper, who's secretly helping the maquis hiding in the woods while they plan strikes against the fascists. Ofelia's journey parallels Mercedes'; their stories are both fantastic and strange, incorporating conventions of fairy and folk tales, legends, and myths. As Ofelia tells her unborn brother stories about the war she's seen, she opens the way into her own fantasy-filled present, which is overseen by a Faun (Doug Jones). He identifies her as the Underground Realm's long-missing Princess Moanna and hands her a book full of blank pages, declaring that it will show her future. She must follow its instructions to discover whether she's worthy of being the princess and returning to her kingdom.
Is it any good?
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: December 29, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: May 15, 2007
- Cast: Ivana Baquero, Maribel Verdu, Sergi Lopez
- Director: Guillermo Del Toro
- Studio: Picturehouse
- Genre: Fantasy
- Run time: 120 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: graphic violence and some language.
- Last updated: September 26, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love horror and fantasy
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch