What parents need to know
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."
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.
Families can talk 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?