“REALITY is brutal and it will kill you, make no mistake about it, but our tales, our creatures and our heroes have a chance to live longer than any of us.”
So says Guillermo del Toro, director-writer of Pan’s Labyrinth (''El Labirinto del Fauno''). I've just seen this, and del Toro's ode to the mythic and magical has left me reeling to the brink of breathlessness. Ought to kick myself, I know, but my toes are tapping in sync with the critics’ chorus of alleluias.
Shuttling his narrative structure between a young girl's vicarious world of fairy tales and the historical backdrop of fascism during the Spanish Civil War, del Toro takes the viewers through a romp that soars with the extravagance of his vision and the exuberance of his imagination.
With its fair share of enchantment and engagement, Pan's Labyrinth is an invitation to that almost extinct zone of innocence where military malevolence and ideological dead-ends coexist with fairy-eating ogres and a giant toad. Thus del Toro, in one of his interviews, affirms: "There is something vaguely embryonic about all the magic environments because I believe that fairy tales are ultimately about two things: facing the dragon or climbing back to our world inside.”
This film recently got nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2007 Golden Globe awards (it is also Mexico's entry in the forthcoming Oscar awards), and my vote is irrevocable. Sight unseen, del Toro's competitors look like chewing gum to this minotaur of a motion picture.