Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Antidote to Spiderman

Finally, Pan's Labyrinth is out on DVD. I wasn't able to see it when it came out because it wasn't in wide release where I live. Well-- really it's because I couldn't convince my husband to go. If it doesn't have car chases it's not really his style. Anyway, I got the movie today in the main through Netflix (gotta love Netflix) and I just got done watching it. It's a beautiful movie, but it surprised me too. It's easy to get into the habit of watching American films and getting used to the American happy ending. Foreign films definitely aren't afraid to make bold statements and leave you in tears-- as I was with Pan's Labyrinth. The movie follows the story of a young girl named Ofelia who has traveled to the countryside of Spain with her mother, who has married a Captain in the Spanish Army. Ofelia's mother, already pregnant with the child of her new husband, tells Ofelia to call the man father, saying "it's just a word Ofelia, it's just a word." And with that we get a glimpse of the life Ofelia is headed into. But Ofelia understands the power of words and refuses to call the man father. Before long she retreats into a fantasy world where a faun, who may or may not be Pan, tells her she is actually the Princess Moanna and that she must complete three tasks in order to come into her inheritance. The movie alternates between the two worlds in a way that reminds me a little of Alice in Wonderland--albeit a darker version. Captain Vidal, Ofelia's stepfather, is chilling and much more menacing to me than any comic book villain a Spiderman movie has produced. But the movie really belongs to Ofelia, played by Ivana Baquero. She is the centerpiece of the film and in my opinion is amazing. She's never precocious or overly cute and I found her to be a believable heroine. So I would recommend that anyone who is looking for an alternative to the less than satisfying Spiderman, check out Pan's Labyrinth to get your fantasy fix. Though don't put it on when the children are watching, there are some disturbing scenes. This is definitely an adult fairy tale.

14 comments:

Fab said...

I just visited the link you put. It looks impressive. A gothic horror fairy tale. The cast is mainly Spanish I see. The are some powerful actors in Spain. But then, my knowledge of hispanic movies limits itself to Almodóvar.

Lee said...

Oh I can't wait to see this. Off to Netflix right now!

Stewart Sternberg said...

I enjoyed the film, and I am not sure the ending is necessarily a sad one. I know..I know...but it depends on whether or not you accept all that has come before as a manifestation of the girl's imagination, or an alternate reality.

What struck me about this film was the ability of the director to take something as brutal and stark as the war in Spain and meld it with a young girl's fantasies.

Brilliantly realized, this film. I think, too, it is one which is worth seeing more than once. It makes for great conversation.

SQT said...

Stewart

I think it was the ambiguity that got to me. That, and the people who cared for her who didn't know her fate.

Mostly, it's because I cared about her character. That's a sign of a good movie.

Carl V. said...

I rushed out and purchased the 2 disc set last night and let me tell you, that second disc is worth the extra money. Great stuff!

Hey there, Skippy said...

SQT, as you know I am in no way an awful, awful, pedantic-type person.... but... you mean "antidote", right?

My awfulness aside, it's a magnificent movie. If you get the chance, check out director Guillermo del Toro's 2002 movie "The Devil's Backbone", which is equally ace.

SQT said...

OMG! Skippy you are so right. The funny thing is, I knew there was something wrong with it, I did a spell check and still nothing. You know how things look wrong to you and you don't know why? Now I know.

Can I use the fact that I am sick as an excuse?

I am utterly embarrassed.

avery said...

Despite the conditions under which I saw it (guy with daughter announcing, "Subtitles? I hate subtitles," unfocused picture and said despised subtitles dangling halfway into the black border for the first twenty minutes), I still enjoyed it.

Having never read a review before going, I was surprised there was so little of the fantasy element. The previews made it seem almost all fantasy. Regardless, I liked it, and firmly choose to believe the alternate reality part (even though her afterlife mother had the baby, which made no sense if it wasn't a hallucination).

SQT said...

Oh, and Skippy. I don't think you're horrible. I'd much rather have someone point out the error than have it sitting there making me look like a colossal idiot.

The Curmudgeon said...

SQT -- Haven't seen the movie, mainly because I like happy, unambiguous endings. I get enough of the other kind in real life.

But here's another reason not to name your daughter Ophelia, isn't it?

And -- off topic -- I tagged you this morning with a music meme. Yes, it's not Sci-Fi -- but you might find it fun to do....

Hey there, Skippy said...

And now, SQT, you have a funny anecdote to tell about it (eeesh, bad joke day over at Hey there, Skippy Towers!)

Kate S said...

Thanks for the review, Sqt. Now I'll have to see if I can find it.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I had the DVD when it came out in Britain a month ago. It is a wonderful story. Highly recommended to all.

ShadowFalcon said...

Pan's Labyrinth was fantastic I did a review when it came out. I' really surprised it wasn't released in a wider circulation, realy shame peolpe are missing on of the best movies of the year