Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth features in a great many ‘Top Ten’ lists of the best films of the 2000s. Noel Murray gave it an A- upon it’s release in 2006 whilst Mark Kermode described the film as a “transformative, life-affirming nightmare.” Labyrinth was nominated for six Academy awards, winning four. Starring Ivana Baquero, Sergi Lopez and Doug Jones in full-body prosthetics, it is the story of young Ofelia, who witnesses her stepfather’s sadistic brutality and escapes into a mythical world of creatures who explain she really belongs with them.
I wouldn’t describe the film as an easy watch, despite its superb story, acting, and design. Sure there’s some moments of gore that’s a little squirm-inducing, but not anything awful. For me personally, it’s a work of art inextricably linked to a time and place, to memories that are probably best left in the past. We all have them; songs or films or other remnants of pop culture that take us back to what we were doing, and who were with, when we first experienced them. For that reason I’ve not revisited Labyrinth in twelve years.
Labyrinth is a modern day fairytale but a dark and sad one; it aches with loss, with grief, with the idea that disappearing into your own imagination can be preferable to the violence of reality. It’s an unavoidably powerful experience that everyone should watch at least once. I heartily recommend this interview that Michael Mann conducted with del Toro for Ion magazine!
Have an awesome day and stay safe and well, Avocado!