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El laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth) – 2006 – Rated R – Fantasy/Drama/War – 119 mins

El laberinto del fauno (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) was released in 2006. It is a Spanish language movie written and directed by Mexican director Guillermo del Toro and produced and distributed by the Mexican film company Esperanto Films. El laberinto del fauno is a dark fantasy movie that deals with the grueling topic of the Spanish Civil War from the perspective of a fairy tale loving ten year old girl. It is actually set in Spain five years after the Spanish Civil War, during the early Francoist period, but the war is still fresh in people’s minds and Spain is in turmoil.

The real world is interweaved with the fantasy world of Ofelia and we are taken to an abandoned labyrinth where we meet a mysterious faun creature. Ofelia interacts with the faun and leaves the horrors of the real world behind. Director Guillermo Del Toro stated that he considers the story to be a parable, influenced by fairy tales, and that it addresses and continues themes from his earlier film “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001). Some of the other works he drew on for inspiration include Lewis Carroll’s “Alice” books, Jorge Luis Borges’ “Ficciones”, Arthur Machen’s “The Great God Pan” and “The White People”, Lord Dunsany’s “The Blessing of Pan”, Algernon Blackwood’s “Pan’s Garden” and Francisco Goya’s works. In 2004, Guillermo del Toro said: “Pan is an original story. Some of my favourite writers (Borges, Blackwood, Machen, Dunsany) have explored the figure of the god Pan and the symbol of the labyrinth. These are things that I find very compelling and I am trying to mix them and play with them.”

There are similarities between El laberinto del fauno and Walt Disney Pictures’ The Chronicles of Narnia: both films are set around the same time, have similar child-age principal characters, mythic creatures, and themes of disobedience and choice. Del Toro said, “This is my version of that universe, not only Narnia, but that universe of children’s literature.” In fact, Guillermo del Toro was asked to direct The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe but turned it down to work on El laberinto del fauno.

This is not by any means a children’s movie. Some of the subject matter is quite shocking and the movie is extremely dark. The horrors of the war and fascist Spain are represented by Ofelia’s stepfather, the Falangist Captain Vidal whose job is to hunt out and kill anti-fascist rebels. At the beginning of the movie, Ofelia travels with her pregnant mother Carmen to meet Captain Vidal who is the father of Carmen’s unborn child. Not wanting to give too much of the story away, Ofelia’s mother grows increasingly ill and her relationship with Vidal increasingly strained. Ofelia is visited by several strange and magical creatures who become central to her story, leading her through the trials of the old labyrinth garden.

El laberinto del fauno premiered at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival and has since won numerous international awards, including three Academy Awards, the Ariel Award for Best Picture, the first Saturn Award for Best International Film and the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. The score for El laberinto del fauno, composed by Javier Navarrete, was released on December 19, 2006. Navarrete and the score were also nominated for an Academy Award. It was entirely structured around a lullaby, and del Toro had the entire score included on the movie soundtrack.

Watch the trailer for Spanish language movie El laberinto del fauno:

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