Pan's Labyrinth

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Pan's Labyrinth Movie Poster Image
Brilliant, poignant fairy tale isn't for kids.
  • R
  • 2006
  • 120 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 46 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 62 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

The captain is strict and brutal, abusing his wife, stepdaughter, local community members, and his servants; Ofelia makes some mistakes (she dirties her party dress, steals food without considering the consequences, etc.), but she's morally sound and a courageous girl; the rebels mean to save the community/nation, but they must sneak around to resist the dominant state forces.


Ofelia appears wounded and bleeding from her mouth as film begins; the fascist captain commits brutal acts (shooting unarmed "rebels," torturing sympathetic characters when they become suspects, threatening Ofelia); Carmen almost miscarries, her blood-covered body frightening Ofelia; after he's attacked with a knife, the captain stitches his wound closed, showing great pain and lots of blood; battles include shooting, explosions, and bloody wounds; a scary giant toad and the eyeless Pale Man threaten Ofelia (latter chases her through a bone-filled cavern with arms waving and attacks her friends the fairies, to bloody effect).


Ofelia's mother submits physically to her new husband, though the abusiveness is never sexual, per se (the concern here is gendered behavior); prepubescent Ofelia remains sexually innocent throughout the film, though she is "seduced" (in an abstract way) by the sinuous, strange faun.


Some infrequent language (all in subtitles), including "assholes," "f--k" and "f--ked up," "hell," "bitch," and "son of a bitch."

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Characters drink wine with dinner; Ofelia concocts a kind of "potion" with a living root.

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."

User Reviews

Adult Written byTheosdoren January 3, 2009

I couldn't Sleep Because of the Violence I saw!!!

I only watched the first 10 minutes or so when I saw a horribly violent scene where a man is beaten to death with a wine bottle, then his father is shot in cold... Continue reading
Parent of a 5 year old Written byslantmaster March 20, 2011
This is a complex film for complex viewers. Considering it's in subtitles, younger kids would not be able to watch it, it requires a good reader to keep up... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byRivern September 30, 2010

Brilliant fairytale is not for children

Pan's Labyrinth is a dark, morbid fairytale that will both stun and amaze you at the same time. It revolves around an eleven year old girl that discovers s... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

Brilliant movie

I can safely say, that this is my favorite movie. Violent, but well-bound into the story. I love the darkness of it. It's something different from the norm... Continue reading

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?

Part fairy tale, part adventure story, and part political allegory, PAN'S LABYRINTH (El Laberinto del Fauno) is, most wonderfully, focused on a brave little girl.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the nature of fairy tales. How do they reflect (and comment upon) real-life experiences? In this movie, how do Ofelia's experiences in the fantastical world mirror what she's going through at home?

Movie details

For kids who love horror and fantasy

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