By Paul Bond:
A film by Guillermo del Toro
11 January 2007
All too often, fantastic films are a disappointment, telling us nothing about reality or patronising us with infantile escapism.
It was a relief, then, to find that Pan’s Labyrinth, by Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, is a serious piece of work, making profound use of its fantasy.
It is set in Spain, 1944. The Civil War is over, although resistance to the fascists continues.
The heavily pregnant Carmen (Ariadna Gil) is travelling to meet her new husband, the Falangist Captain Vidal (an excellent performance by Sergi Lopez).
With her is Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), her daughter by her first marriage.
Ofelia travels with armfuls of books of fairy tales.
Doctors think Carmen should not travel, but Vidal insists “a son should be born where his father is.”
Vidal is hunting the resistance.
A stickler for punctuality and military formality, he wants his son to be born in Franco’s “new Spain”—which he will create by brute force if necessary.
“The war is over and we won,” he says, and he is determined to kill all resisters to prove it.
The fascists’ sadistic repression is brought out in some terrible and violent sequences, such as Vidal beating a poacher to death with a bottle.
See also here.
The execution of Puig Antich under Franco: here.
Bizet’s Carmen: here.