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Fairy Tales For Grown-Ups
January 28, 2007 7:13 PM   Subscribe

Pan's Labyrinth the new movie by director Guillermo del Toro (Devil's Backbone) is a fairy tale for grownups. Certainly not a new idea, stories like Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia have elements that appeal to adults, but Pan's Labyrinth is perhaps unique in that it's not at all suitable for children.
posted by grapefruitmoon (162 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also, bears some resemblance to That Other Labyrinth.

(I just got back from seeing this and I cried like a little girl with a skinned knee. It crushed my soul, but in a good way.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:15 PM on January 28, 2007


But I just got back from seeing it!!!
posted by typewriter at 7:19 PM on January 28, 2007


Grapefruitmoon - it only is soul-crushing if you don't believe.
posted by typewriter at 7:27 PM on January 28, 2007


Saw it, loved it. Would see it again! A+++
posted by Balisong at 7:31 PM on January 28, 2007


Saw this just over a month ago. Great film. Pleased to see it in wide release. Pleased and surprised.
posted by juiceCake at 7:32 PM on January 28, 2007


Okay, I poked around in the links, but didn't see anything obvious; why is this movie rated R?
posted by Hildegarde at 7:34 PM on January 28, 2007


It is set in the Spanish Civil War, and the violence is, well, realistic. The contrast is deliberate from the world of the girl, Ofelia.
posted by typewriter at 7:36 PM on January 28, 2007


Hildegarde: It's set against the background of Fascist Spain. There's your first clue.

(I mean, death. Lots of death. Brutal brutal death. Torture and more death. Did I say death?)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:37 PM on January 28, 2007


It's a great movie but del Toro chickened out by locating evil in the body of a single individual. It really is a fairy tale for adults not unlike the War on Terror, globalization and multiculturalism.
posted by nixerman at 7:37 PM on January 28, 2007


Hildegarde - Because it's incredibly violent. There's one scene that's nearly identical to the one in Irreversible, where the guy gets his face smashed in by a fire extinguisher.
posted by lunalaguna at 7:38 PM on January 28, 2007


I just skimmed the links because I don't want too much given away, but I haven't been this excited to see a movie in a long time, mainly because The Devil's Backbone is one of the most gorgeous, tense and captivating ghost stories I've ever seen - a very human story with fascinating oddball characters and interesting villains set in an orphanage during the Spanish Civil War. Since I heard that same director was behind Pan's Labyrinth I've been dying to see it. Thanks for the encouragement.

Geez, you people are just here to snark.

Ain't it the truth. They rush to do it, too, as if they'd personally bleed if the thread actually developed in a way that wasn't lowest common denominator.
posted by mediareport at 7:38 PM on January 28, 2007


*realizes folks are gonna start posting major spoilers any second now, leaves thread*
posted by mediareport at 7:40 PM on January 28, 2007


I saw this a few weeks back, and I actually set next to a whole family, including little kids. They were horrified. But what can you do? There's an R-rating right there.

Best movie I've seen in a long time.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:44 PM on January 28, 2007


mediareport: None of the links that I posted contain spoilers. I was careful of that.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:44 PM on January 28, 2007


Longing to see the movie. That you liked it grapefruitmoon, is a big recommendation. Thanks for the post.
posted by nickyskye at 7:45 PM on January 28, 2007


I've been wanting to start a thread about the movie myself, but couldn't find the right angle on it.

The last three movies I watched in the theater were Babel, Children of Men and Pan's Labyrinth-- all three of the major films of 2006 made by Mexican directors, and they are all, in their own way, major achievements.

The thought that I left the last movie I saw--Babel--with was that I wish there was more movie criticism where critics actually engage with the substance of the movie instead of movie reviews that just try to tell us if the movie is 'good' or not.

Reviewers seem to be so focused on critiquing every aspect of the movie from the camera work to the acting as if it were the newest car out from Pontiac, that precludes any possibility of treating it as art.

And I think all three of those movies deserved to be treated as art.

Has anyone read any good critiques of either of those movies?
-----

And, on Pan's Labyrinth -- it's pretty clear that the girl's story is a microcosm of the Spanish Civil War, if the Captain is Franco, Ofelia is the 2nd Republic, and the baby is Spain. Anybody agree, disagree?
posted by empath at 7:45 PM on January 28, 2007


NPR interview with del toro
posted by empath at 7:47 PM on January 28, 2007


It's strange to me that it is a fairy-tale for grown-ups. At some point in history, weren't fairytales for everybody? I mean, I recognize that they are teaching tools, but when did fairy-tales become the sole domain of children? Maybe with wider literacy?
posted by typewriter at 7:47 PM on January 28, 2007


First the Oscars, now Metafilter. The sky's the limit!
posted by muckster at 7:50 PM on January 28, 2007


empath: the reviews at Pajiba are usually quite good.

Pan's Labyrinth


Children of Men

Babel
posted by arcticwoman at 7:55 PM on January 28, 2007


empath: I agree. I actually think that there should be reviews that just tell you whether the reviewer thinks the movie is worth watching or not, but there should also be reviews that engage with movies and critique them. Reviews that do both are great, but I prefer the former for before seeing the movie, and the latter for after.
posted by Kattullus at 7:58 PM on January 28, 2007


I just want to say, especially to grapefruitmoon: I didn't mean in any way to condone 'pepsi-blue' type snarking by my comment up there-- I thought this was a great post even before I read the links. And let me tell anyone else who hasn't clicked through-- there's some very cool stuff, much more than I expected, up there.
posted by koeselitz at 8:10 PM on January 28, 2007


MetaFilter: you people are just here to snark.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:12 PM on January 28, 2007


Hey, look, most movies don't rate a post on MeFi, but this is an exceptional movie. Perhaps in an alternate universe where all movies are original, this is but one of many, but in our world, this is unique and darkly beautiful.

If you haven't seen it, please do, and don't forget the prozak.
posted by Muddler at 8:23 PM on January 28, 2007


How well timed (just got back from seeing this tonight). No spoilers, but I didn't make the emotional decision until the last 5 minutes that it was worth crying about, so when I did it was heart-wrenching.

Spoilers follow









I don't know enough about the 2nd Republic to critique the political text, but the subtext of her tasks, especially the one she "fails" (by not accepting provided authority, even with disastrous consequences) have satisfying parallels with the "real" world stories the more I consider them.

A film I will keep in mind for a while. Now off to netflix the rest of Del Toro's oeuvre...
posted by abulafa at 8:24 PM on January 28, 2007


Sorry if I was part of the snarkage. Ever since I first saw the movie at the New York Film Festival, I've been watching it explode in slow motion. It was my #3 favorite movie of 2006 (#1 for Marcy), holds a cool 96% at Rotten Tomatoes, and just received six Oscar nominations. It's playing at my local Queens multiplex, which hasn't happened to a subtitled movie since Crouching Tiger. Del Toro managed to make an instant classic, no doubt about it. Incidentally, I just saw and also highly recommend The Devil's Backbone--it's clearly a stepping stone to the more archetypal Pan's, but it's a terrific movie in its own right. I'm not much of a fan of Del Toro's Blade 2 but we should never forget Harry Knowles' now-legendary review of that movie. More on Del Toro from Green Cine Daily; don't miss the sketchbook at the official site. (And if you want to get in on the next foreign film craze early, get hopped up about The Host now!)
posted by muckster at 8:34 PM on January 28, 2007


So was the movie about the dangers of idealism or the danger of obeying authority or both?

I think one could draw a parallel between her quest to be a princess and the quest of the rebels to overthrow the government. And how much one should sacrifice to follow a dream. Or whether it's ever okay to sacrifice an innocent in pursuit of a 'higher purpose'.

I think the question of authority is more ambiguous. For example, what was the point of the scene with the Pale Man, thematically?
posted by empath at 8:38 PM on January 28, 2007


er, yeah, as mentioned previously fairly tales where awfully bloody to begin with, then got sanitized for modern sensibilities, and not necessarily children's sensibilities mind you, but adult expectation of what children sensibilities where suppose to be.

Cinderella's step sisters cut their toes off and used the blood as lubricant to fit in the glass slipper. Goldilocks doesn't get away, and Red Ridding Hood... welll lets just say the name kinda has multiple meanings. Grimms was grim, no doubt about it.

Pan's Labyrinth looks pretty cool, but can't lay claim to being unique by being a fairy tale for adults, they've always been around and always will be.
posted by edgeways at 8:39 PM on January 28, 2007


(I mean, death. Lots of death. Brutal brutal death. Torture and more death. Did I say death?)

A brutality that makes the ultraviolence of A Clockwork Orange or Man Bites Dog seem playful. It is Natural Born Killers stripped of the music-video soundtrack that made it somewhat less than real.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:41 PM on January 28, 2007


Best movie of the year, bar none.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 8:41 PM on January 28, 2007


Now off to netflix the rest of Del Toro's oeuvre
Which, besides Hellboy and Blade 2, endow them with what merits ye will, basically includes The Devil's Backbone. So unless you're a real cheapo a single Netflix-round should cover it.


posted by adoarns at 8:45 PM on January 28, 2007


If he actually gets to make Mountains Of Madness it will, IMHO, probably be the best thing evah.
posted by Artw at 8:46 PM on January 28, 2007


I honestly think, that except for a couple of scenes that this movie would be okay for most kids over say the age of 12 or so, especially compared to the sewage that most of them are exposed to daily on TV every day anyway.
posted by empath at 8:46 PM on January 28, 2007


If only a fraction of Hollywood filmmakers were as articulate as del Toro as he comes across in the NPR interview empath linked to.
posted by greatgefilte at 8:50 PM on January 28, 2007


adoarns, Cronos is worthwhile, too.
posted by muckster at 8:50 PM on January 28, 2007


Now off to netflix the rest of Del Toro's oeuvre

Don't bother with Blade 2. Hellboy is kind of fun though - a great take on the character if a bit of a mess.

Adonarns seems to have forgotten Mimic and Cronos, unless Netflix doesn't have them? Anyway, they're both worth a watch - Cronos is a great debut, a very different take on vampirism, and Mimic is basically a hollywood horror flick, but quite fun nonetheless.
posted by Artw at 8:52 PM on January 28, 2007


Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro, & Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu on Charlie Rose.
posted by muckster at 8:54 PM on January 28, 2007


I had a really negative reaction to this film, mostly because I felt my chain being yanked. I appear to be the only person alive who feels this way.

As earlier posts mention, the violence in this film is graphic, brutal, and prolonged. But, also as mentioned, it's a fairy tale - which is shorthand for "a simple story full of wooden, two-dimensional characters, whose outcome is predetermined."

And, you know, nothing wrong with that. I love a lot of genre pieces that would fit that description.

The problem is that this movie wants us to care - like, capital-c Care - about its wooden characters, and to make that happen, it takes the cheapest possible route: gore, and lots of it. The bad guy of the film has got to be the dullest in the annals of Oscar-nominated film: he's nothing but a generic Movie Nazi. He's so uninteresting that an audience would shrug him off, so the movie shows him doing Movie Nazi stuff (say, killing innocents) in extreme, prolonged, graphic detail. It's like a taunt: "Hey audience! NOW do you hate this guy enough?"

I, for one, opted to hate the movie instead. It's an interesting film to talk about after the fact, and its qualities of design, production, and acting are self-evident. But it's cheaply manipulative, forcibly extracting emotional investment it doesn't deserve. How to review an interesting, well made film, whose chief failing is that it really, really pisses you off?
posted by bicyclefish at 9:01 PM on January 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


I just feel obligated to share my opposing viewpoint: I was pretty disappointed.

After the huge positive percentage on Rotten Tomatoes, and the marketing, and the plaudits from alternative sources and folks with good taste, I was expecting a "fairy tale for grownups" and a movie right up my alley. I really don't think I got what I was sold, and I think that raises interesting questions about audeince reception of this film.

To me, it's a very awkward pairing of two parallel plotlines: the traditionally structured revolutionary docudrama and a pretty unoriginal fantasy (I mean in terms of concept, not visuals).

If someone here can convince me that that lopsided dualism unlocks the key to this parable of fascism, I'll bite, but as it is, it seemed too overdetermined and inaccurately marketed to make up for that, to me. In short, my POV here is "Not enough Labyrinth, or Pan."
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:02 PM on January 28, 2007


When I went in Minneapolis last week, Doug Jones, who plays the faun (and also the creature with eyes in his hand) was there to talk about the movie. He also provided the physicality for Abe Sapien in Hellboy and plays the Silver Surfer in the new Fantastic Four movie. Incredibly sweet guy -- long and lanky, and every movement is exaggerated for comic effect.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:05 PM on January 28, 2007


the girl's story is a microcosm of the Spanish Civil War

Do you think the movie is a political allegory? Saw lots of Nazis in the trailer. It calls itself a fairy-tale...
posted by stbalbach at 9:20 PM on January 28, 2007


Hm. Upon IMDBing him (I knew his name sounded familiar for more than this and Devil's Backbone) I found Cronos.

Aah Cronos. I saw it at a screening in something like 1992/93 before it was released anywhere... perhaps I was expecting something that could not materialize (it was, ahem, at a convention midnight movie) but it did not impress at the time.

Then again, neither did Blade 2.

Perhaps I'll start with the NPR interview and branch out from there.

Those who are disappointed with the shallow, heavy-handed feeling of the parable: I agree. I agreed up until the scene near the end when Ofelia's conversation with the Faun is observed from Vidal's perspective. That is heartbreaking because it chooses at that moment (in my view) to become realism with fantastic escape rather than fantasy with realistic setting.
posted by abulafa at 9:24 PM on January 28, 2007


bicyclefish: At first I had the same impression as you did of Capt. Vidal. But the movie does manage to hint at depths, for example the scene where he slits his reflection's throat and when he denies the existance of his father's watch. Yes, he's a monstrous human being, but such men have existed. I found him more fleshed out than most.
posted by Kattullus at 9:26 PM on January 28, 2007


yes, stbalbach. It is an allegory to holocaust in many of the scenes (like the pile of shoes in the banquet room).

I just commented about it in ColdChef's thread on Metachat.
posted by carmina at 9:28 PM on January 28, 2007


It is not a fairy tale in the sense of "a child's story". It is a fairy tale in the chimerical sense.
posted by carmina at 9:31 PM on January 28, 2007


[removed some of the pepsi blue snarking -- the address of metatalk is: metatalk.metafiter.com]
posted by jessamyn at 9:39 PM on January 28, 2007


It's not a perfect movie, but it's very, very good.

I'll have to see it again before I can say anything more intelligent about it.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:48 PM on January 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the complaints. The Captain was pretty well fleshed-out, and while it didn't have the twisty gimcrackery of most indie bullshit, that was a welome change. It's like y'all have never heard of magical realism, or think that doing something simple very well is somehow bad. It was a well-told story with a fair amount of cultural distance from most WWII stories made after Vietnam (which is kinda a clear break in US film, thus Western film), with judiciously concieved imagry that resonated successfully.
They can't all be Cremaster, folks.
posted by klangklangston at 10:02 PM on January 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I stand before you all to defend Blade II and Cronos. Popcorn is OK, too. Hellboy was very nearly a good movie - skip the flick and go for the comics.

But Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth are both masterpieces, as is Blade II, at least as far as non-Whedonian vampire chop-socky goes.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:10 PM on January 28, 2007


bicycle thief and ambrosia,

i too share your criticisms.

my film editor reviewed the movie in december and gave it a "meh" review and was accused of not liking it to appear "cool".

so then i went to see it, mostly after seeing the 98% Rotten Tomatoes rankings.

i was less than impressed. i thought the violence that made it an "R" was unnecessary, i also thought the monsters were far from scary or creepy.

and yes the characters were wooden. so i gave it a worse than meh rating.

maybe i wasnt stoned enough before i went.
posted by tsarfan at 10:17 PM on January 28, 2007


Pan's Labyrinth looks pretty cool, but can't lay claim to being unique by being a fairy tale for adults, they've always been around and always will be.

Yes and no. I would say that in terms of modern cinema, this is a unique entity in that it's a film in fairy tale form that is completely inappropriate for children. (Defined as anyone under the age of say, 13.)

Also, in terms of wooden characters with a pre-determined ending, don't most fairy tales (in this day and age) end, oh, happily?

SPOILER AHEAD














I thought the scene at the end where she's arguing with the faun and the Captain comes up behind her and it's obvious that no one else can see the faun was showing that the "fairy tale" only existed in her mind. Sure, she goes to be a princess when she dies, but that's only to create an ending to the story that she had made for herself. Really, she just dies.

(Hence the weeping like a small child on my part.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:19 PM on January 28, 2007


grapefruitmoon: funny, almost exactly the same moment for me.
posted by abulafa at 10:25 PM on January 28, 2007


Although i can respect people not liking the film, and won't attempt to talk you out of it, I found this hard to believe:

i also thought the monsters were far from scary or creepy.

You really didn't find the hand-eyed monster scary? I thought it was one of the best monsters I've ever seen in a movie. I have a hard time thinking of a scarier one, to be honest.

I will say that I think the advertising campaign is a little dishonest, in that people go in expecting a whole lot more fantasy than they get.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:29 PM on January 28, 2007


abulafa: My husband didn't really connect the conversation with the storyline - for him, the fairy tale was the real story.

Which would explain why he wasn't blowing his nose into his sleeve as the credits rolled.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:29 PM on January 28, 2007


I've been waiting for this one for over a year. del Toro is a unique director whose journey you can understand if you start with Cronos and Devil's Backbone, are aware of his Mexican and Catholic background, and know he makes big budget Hollywood films to gain reputation and budget so he can escape to Spain and film real movies like Pan's Labyrinth (and the first two I mentioned). Hellboy was a guilty pleasure for him, but he also knows and respects the comic and its creator. He did well, and was the only person to do it.

I follow movie rumors and jump at the mention of names like del Toro. I wouldn't consider myself a fanboy, but rather someone with taste. Also, I manage to avoid reading any reviews or buy into any hype when the movie comes out because I don't want any spoilers. Yet it confounds me how negative some movie viewers are, after reading two sentences of a local newspaper review, they go see what's obviously a good movie and get all disappointed.

But then couch potato film critics have always bored me. If you can't tell the differnence between Miss Congeniality and Babel, between Saw III and Pan's Labyrinth, I weep for you.
posted by asfuller at 10:32 PM on January 28, 2007


klangklangston, I think it's an excellent movie but only that. It's certainly not a masterpiece. I suspect it's received such accolades from the liberal elite only because it resupplies them with a beautiful counter-narrative against the other darker fairytales that persist in the age of terror. It's like a anti-Fascist pep-talk but not really because even its depiction of fascism is marketed. Or something. It's difficult to say exactly what's wrong with the movie but I do think there's just something very dishonest about the whole enterprise. I came out of the movie and checked my pockets to make sure my wallet was still there.

Captain comes up behind her and it's obvious that no one else can see the faun was showing that the "fairy tale" only existed in her mind.

This isn't really clear. You might just as well interpret that scene as an indication that the that it's the Capitan who's operating on a level far removed from reality. He's the one who's so twisted that he can't see even the most obvious truths such as the betrayal of his maid etc. I don't think it's really at all obvious that the whole thing is just in her head. There are real events (her ability to move around, the improved condition of her mother, and finally her death) that aren't so easily explained but I do think del Toro understands that his audience is too cynical and lacks the imagination to embrace a true fairytale and so he needed a kind of release valve like the kind you see in Greek tragedy where hidden violence is employed to ground the story and make it 'serious' and make the peasants cry.

Anyways it's a good movie that everybody should see even if it's a bit shifty.
posted by nixerman at 10:32 PM on January 28, 2007



But Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth are both masterpieces, as is Blade II, at least as far as non-Whedonian vampire chop-socky goes.


Hooray, someone else who like Blade 2! It's a genre piece with absolutely no pretensions, but for what it is it is incredibly well done. You only need to contrast it with Blade 1 and 3 to see what the same material with a different director (same scriptwriter all three times) turns out like.

It's also worth it for the hilarious audio commentary Del Toro provides on the DVD where he's got no pretensions to grandeur and is only too happy to point out what he thinks works and doesn't. Choice example is [paraphrased] "Wait for it, this is the worst line in the movie. [line] Oh god, that was fucking awful! [laughs]" Made even funnier by David Goyer (screenplay) and Wesley Snipes on the other commentary track treating the movie with reverential awe.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 10:41 PM on January 28, 2007


asfuller: can you explain to me why Del Toro's Catholicism or Mexicanness have some special importance in the appreciation of this film, above and beyond, say, Cuaron's or Inarritu's?

Yet it confounds me how negative some movie viewers are, after reading two sentences of a local newspaper review, they go see what's obviously a good movie and get all disappointed.

While what you describe is certainly a crummy attitude to have regarding cinema, I think your remark rather underestimates the intellectual engagement people have with both their entertainment and advertising media. Marketing matters as much in determining a person's response to film as prior understanding of even the most stylistically consistent auteur, and I would venture to say that's true whether said marketing is in Variety, Entertainment Weekly or Wide Angle.

No film is seen that doesn't lend itself to be comparison and critique, and the basis of that critique matters a lot and varies widely viewer to viewer. No one in this thread has dismissed the film out of hand.

Careful you don't become a couch potato cultural critic yourself.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:24 PM on January 28, 2007


I went into the theater expecting quite a different movie. I was disappointed that so little of the film took place in the "Labyrinth". The gruesome creature was very intriguing, but really nothing more than a tease, and a tease that was inflated by the trailers for the film. There is really isn't very much "gore," comparatively, though there is quite a large amount of violence, but most of it is off-screen, and only implied.

I felt like the fantasy of MirrorMask (trailer here) was much further developed and realised. I was expecting something along the lines of that film's fantasy and artistry.

I went in with a great expectation, and came out feeling only teased. Here's why: (spoilers)

































Pan hardly moved at all! He creaked around a bit, but mostly stood around and talked. Maybe this is because he is mostly tree?

The Eye-hand man (the "Pale Man") also creaked along!

The Story creaked along! I think a less misleading title could have been "The Long Death of Capitan Vidal". He really seemed to be the main character of this film.

There are only like 6 minutes of Labyrinth! Maybe it also could be called "Pan stands around".




Don't hate on me yet, I enjoyed the film (the toad thing was very cool, also the blood-mists were a nice subtle touch), but I was expecting much more. So many creative ideas sprung up, but then were abandoned (the Pale Man, for instance) or dissolved into predictable mush. (Surprise, she uses the magical chalk to escape from her evil step-father!) Also, I really was intrigued by the concept of the book that wrote itself, and the art of the book, which was created by del Toro himself (and I am having a hard time finding on the interweb, but this is cool.) Nevertheless, I enjoyed the film, and desire direly more of the sort of visual creativity and departure from hollywood schlock that this film has. del Toro certainly has something I like brooding in his head; perhaps he only needs more money and more time to create a more wholly satisfying film.
posted by headless at 11:24 PM on January 28, 2007


I liked the movie a lot. One of my favourites last year, in large part for taking a lot of risks and having a lot of balls, and generally pulling things off.

But would it have hurt it to have worked a little more on motivations and realistic actions by the characters? There are two huge points that stand out (spoilers ahead):

1) Ofelia is warned something like 15 times to not eat from the hand-eye-monster's table, or horrible things will happen. Then she decides to eat from it anyway, just because the grapes look good or something. She's nowhere near that stupid anywhere else in the movie, so this is basically lazy scriptwriting to create the edge-of-your-seat sequence that follows, and to allow the monster to do something even scarier than just sit there (which is really quite scary in itself).

2) The rebels attack the camp and blow up everything in sight, but then decide to use a key that their mole in the camps is the only one who has access to, to open the rickety wooden door to the store room. So even though they have explosives, they needlessly use the key, selling out their own mole. This, too, is just lazy screenwriting to start up a later scene. And how did the mole/informant herself think that this was a good idea, after all the "Yes, you are the only one who has the key, guard it well", "Yes, noone but me has the key" stuff?

So, a couple of big "blah"s from me in what was otherwise a very good movie. And yes, the ending was very sad, and good.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:25 PM on January 28, 2007


How to review an interesting, well made film, whose chief failing is that it really, really pisses you off?

In my experience, the movies that have really pissed me off ended up being the ones that really stuck with me. Whether they were incompentent in an original way, or just hit an 'off' chord, or manipulated me in a way that made me much angrier than I would have expected... those are the movies that forced me to really look. Rosetta and Magnolia spring to mind (although I still hate Magnolia.)

Thanks for the post, grapefruitmoon. I'm really looking forward to seeing this movie.
posted by maryh at 11:38 PM on January 28, 2007


I take it Joakin Ziegler has never done anything people have warned him not to do. Ever.

(Seriously, people are dumb. Whenever someone complains to me about how people in movies are dumb, I have to remind them that people - ALL PEOPLE - are really, really dumb. Also, it's human nature to want to do whatever it is that you're told NOT to do - Ofelia even rationalizes this with "I didn't think anyone would miss two grapes!" Doubly so when you're twelve. Had that been me, I would have been all "Oh man, I think someone told me not to eat this stuff, but it looks mighty tasty. Fuckit. It's all going in my belly!" And this is why no one makes movies about ME.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:44 PM on January 28, 2007


I'm so dumb, I can't type "Joakim!"
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:45 PM on January 28, 2007


Spoilers ahoy.







Joakim Ziegler:
Then she decides to eat from it anyway

Also, her mother had sent her to bed without dinner. And she was 12 or so. And she was in a magical fantasy land with two fairies and some kind of eyeless freak. Cut her some slack, please. You have a point about the key - but then, it was a warzone and people who are being shot at do silly things as well.

I've also wondered about whether the 'it's all in her head' interpretation is tenable. As Ofelia runs through the labyrinth at the end, isn't there a point where the wall closes behind her and blocks the Capitan so he has to find another way to the centre? I think there are a few other points in the story where the fairytale and the reality intersect in ways which imply strongly that the fairytale is really happening.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 12:15 AM on January 29, 2007


Like grapefruitmoon and abulafa, I gave myself permission to see the fantasy storyline as Ofelia's escape at the moment that Vidal saw her interaction, or, rather, failed to see her interaction, with the faun. I say gave myself permission to see it in that way, but I was really giving myself permission to cry in a packed theater. The whole endeavor seemed very orchestrated to me, but what fairy tale isn't? I kept wondering how well the story's elements would fit into Vladimir Propp's Morphology of the Folktale.

There are hints, as nixerman noted, that the magic bleeds into the real. For me, the most notable was near the end when the labyrinth walls opened up for her and Vidal was left at a dead end. Regarding Vidal, there seems to have been an attempt to develop his character and the political allegory through his attitudes toward his father and unborn son. I'm not sure of this at all, but I think it was said that his father died in Morocco at the beginning of the coup. I assumed his father smashed his watch so his son would forever remember the time of not only his death, but also that of the Republic. Vidal must now continually maintain the fundamentally broken mechanism, even completely disassembling and reassembling it, for it to keep time. It seems reasonable that an allegory was intended, though I don't know enough of the history to really flesh it out. I mean, framed as a fairytale, it is by definition a structuralist's dream. If Vidal is Nationalism, then only after the train explosion and storehouse break-in does Vidal realize that his position is a trap, both idealogically and in the sense that he's about to be toast...

but moreso than the particulars of the allegory, I was struck by how emotionally affected I was by this film, by the profound sympathy I felt for Ofelia, and really by the fact that a film moved me to tears. Friends who saw it as a fantasy film without enough fantasy were surprised by my reaction, and thought it was sad but not really wrenching.
posted by chudder at 12:27 AM on January 29, 2007


Joakim Ziegler:

1) Regarding eating the fruit, as far as I know, it was meant to show the difference between her and Vidal. He represents blind deference to authority, while she represents the iconoclast -- a sort of eating the forbidden fruit over listening to authority.

2) I think the key was meant to be a sort-of parallel-event between real life and fantasy for the movie. The rebels were given a key and so was Ophelia at around the same time. I have no idea what that implies, though.
posted by amuseDetachment at 12:58 AM on January 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


* skips to end without reading thread*

utterly loved it & look fwd to reading everybody's comments.

only real drawback for me: that the head fascist & his sadistic henchman were presented as evil personified. in struggles like the spanish fascists against the communists, or the neocons against the entire world, it helps little to see things in such black & white terms. the fascists were human, too, and would have had their own human beliefs & motives, yet the ones in this movie seemed as shallowly one-dimensional as the nazibots from old WWII movies.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:08 AM on January 29, 2007


Did you not notice, Joakim, that everything on that table was red? The hands of the monster were stained red with the blood of its victims; the red food on the table was symbolic of that blood.

There is only violent resistance shown in this movie; when Ofelia resisted the dictate of the authority, she sullied herself by eating a grape bursting with the blood of the innocent. Only later was she able to redeem herself, by refusing to shed innocent blood. This works in the context of the allegory that empath proposes, too.

It's been a long time since I saw a movie with fantastic acting, directing, characters, special effects, everything good; and disliked it this much. It left me very unhappy and I wish I hadn't gone to see it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:09 AM on January 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


****SPOILORZ BELOW, WATCH YOUR ASS****

Okay, if nothing else, how about the Doctor's death scene? That was a little slice of beauty.

I'm in the camp that feels while Captain Vidal certainly veers into being a Big Bad Evil Villain, there are a small handful of scenes that humanize him (in my opinion) effectively and succinctly. Between his moment with the mirror, his issues with his father and the drink he takes after he's had his mouth ripped open (to say nothing of the second), I think he exists in a comfortable limbo between being a villainous fairy tale step-father and tortured, self-loathing, militaristic autocrat. He, like so much of the film, exists both in a naturalistic world and a morbidly fantastical one.

While I don't entirely agree with the assessment, I do sort of enjoy the idea of the film as an "anti-fascist pep talk" as someone called it earlier. I think the film carries stronger messages and more complex themes than you give it credit for, but even if it is just a pep talk, I'm not sure we couldn't use one of those right about now.
posted by StopMakingSense at 2:01 AM on January 29, 2007


Spoilers, yo!








Can anyone explain to me why she wants to return to being a princess? From the way the movie sets it up, she escaped a dark and dreary kingdom to come into our world. And then promptly forgot about where she came from. "Grass is always greener" syndrome, perhaps?
posted by graventy at 2:25 AM on January 29, 2007


This has been out for ages... i loved it. it scared the bejeezus out of me too...
posted by cardamine at 3:31 AM on January 29, 2007


(which is kinda a clear break in US film, thus Western film)

Sad, sad, comment. Sad and stupid.
posted by Wolof at 4:33 AM on January 29, 2007


graventy - Yes, this ambiguity had me all torn up inside. Don't trust that faun, he's from the underworld! There is the interpretation that her world was completely made of, and a function of her mind to survive the war and violence around her, and of course, that it was all real, and she returns to her father. But, I started to think that it can be a mixture of both...When she made the error with the fruit, the faun said that she would never see the otherworldly creatures again. And, the mandrake baby magic also ceased to work after that. So perhaps, at that point, Ofelia created the rest?

Also, my take on the fruit eating thing, as is all temptations in fairy-tales, fruit, or candy is irresistable. Lush and gorgeous and tempting, magically, sinisterly drawing in its prey.
posted by typewriter at 5:29 AM on January 29, 2007


chudder: nicely done on the watch allegory. That had been confusing to me.

Vidal's (Franco's) father was the Monarchy, and the watch was the State (as opposed to the people, represented by the baby). The coup killed his father, he inherited a fundamentally broken system, which he tried to keep going.

When Franco died, he tried to return Spain to the Monarchy (tell my son...), but Spain instead changed into a democracy (he won't even know your name).
posted by empath at 5:51 AM on January 29, 2007


I appreciated the film's ambiguity about the reality of the fairy tail world. There are clues that the world might actually exist -- for one thing, Ofelia creates real objects back from it, such as the chalk, which people in the real world can see. She legitimately escapes a locked and guarded room using the chalk, and the outline of chalk-made door is visible on the other side of the wall. And yet, there are clues that it is all just fantasy, the most devastating being when the Captain fails to see the faun. I'm always glad when filmmakers refuse to answer questions such as these for the audiences -- popular artists often handle ambiguity so poorly.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:55 AM on January 29, 2007


So -- anybody:

Why two keys(Ofelia's and Mercedes) and why two knives(again, ofelia's and mercedes)?

Why three stones and three fairies? Were there patterns of threes in the 'real' storyline as well?

What was the deal with the frog?

I think, btw, that the people who are not vibing on the movie in general are focusing too much on plot and character development. It's just not that kind of movie. The three directors all said in that Charlie Rose interview that they are more concerned with theme, and how the language of cinema allows a different kind of non-character-based narrative than theater does.

In the interview on NPR, del Toro said that he thought most of the original fairy tales for adults were metaphors for complex political situations that gradually got infantilized until they were children's stories, and that was what he was trying to do with this movie.

For those of you who thought the actions of characters were implausible -- do you interrupt tellings of Hansel and Gretel and complain that no child would ever climb into the oven? Who would ever believe that a wolf was their grandmother, that's ridiculous!
posted by empath at 6:01 AM on January 29, 2007


What a beautiful movie. Five days after opening in the midwest, I saw it in a rather desolate theater with around twenty people. Two pairs of individuals walked out after they realized it was a subtitled film. As supposed adults, they made the conscious decision to waste $18 because they were too lazy to read.

Don't miss that sketchbook linked up above, supposedly the story is that he left this compilation in the back of a taxi. It was a rather crushing blow to his motivation on the project and he thought he was going to scrap the whole thing; apparently the cab driver went to great expense to return the sketchbook to him and allow him to complete his vision.

You're doing yourself a great disservice if at the end of this film you view it thematically and structurally as an extravagant dichotomy.
posted by prostyle at 6:14 AM on January 29, 2007


Just to further answer regarding implausibility in fairy tales, it is likely the motives for the characters' actions have been long lost to history. An example in point is Cinderella, which in the Grimm's version includes the grisly details of the stepsisters cutting off toe or heel to make their big feet fit the tiny slipper. It sort of makes sense but...The possible origins of this fairy tale first show up in China, published sometime in the 9th century as Yeh-Shen, or Yexian or other various spellings. If you think of the practice of foot-binding in China, and the bride value of a young woman with the smallest foot, the motivations of the stepsisters start to make more sense. Overall, the Cinderella story (in the Chinese version) is a tale rewarding the girl with the smallest feet (most beautiful!). The wiki, which is not the full version of Yexian, just a synopsis.
posted by typewriter at 6:18 AM on January 29, 2007


"klangklangston, I think it's an excellent movie but only that."

Christ, what a complaint! Were all movies I saw only excellent!

"I suspect it's received such accolades from the liberal elite only because it resupplies them with a beautiful counter-narrative against the other darker fairytales that persist in the age of terror. It's like a anti-Fascist pep-talk but not really because even its depiction of fascism is marketed."

Except the fascists win, despite the brief victory of the Republicans.

"Sad, sad, comment. Sad and stupid."

Oh, fuck you, Wolof. Vietnam had a heavy impact on American cinema, especially when it comes to how war movies are seen, and there's no way in hell you can make the case that American films aren't the dominant cinema in the West. I know you've got a hard-on for me, but it's really a pretty uncontroversial statement. (Seen Apocalypse Now? So has Del Toro.)

"You're doing yourself a great disservice if at the end of this film you view it thematically and structurally as an extravagant dichotomy."

That's an excellent point, which is why I mentioned magical realism upthread. The ambiguity of who has the right to shape the real is pretty powerful, to me.
posted by klangklangston at 6:35 AM on January 29, 2007


Some competing and supportive comments here, and here is an interview with DT here.
posted by Mintyblonde at 6:37 AM on January 29, 2007


I just saw this film over the weekend, and it may be a victim of its own incredible expectations. This movie is not a masterpiece, and will not be remembered and discussed as a GREAT WORK OF CINEMA in the years to come. I think it'll be interesting, in a few years, to compare this film to "Children of Men" - "Pan's Labyrinth" will be seen as an overlush, cartoon of a film, full of cliches and overt manipulations of filmmaking, and "Children of Men" will be seen as this sort of step forward in filmmaking, toward something more natural, organic, and realistic (what was that that Bazin said about realism and cinema...). "Pan's Labyrinth" is simply little more than a very stylish, very competently and professionally made 50's Hollywood homage. Even though I saw this movie in the middle of Ohio (where of course the world's greatest film scholars live...kidding), it seemed like the entire theater was groaning under the weight of the film, and when we left, people were just shaking their heads with confusion - what the HELL were all the critics smoking??
posted by billysumday at 6:37 AM on January 29, 2007


there's no way in hell you can make the case that American films aren't the dominant cinema in the West

I think one could absolutely make that case. American film certainly established the grammar of modern film-making, but in the past 10-20 years, I think most of the innovation has been in foreign film.
posted by empath at 6:40 AM on January 29, 2007


Well, it's nice that history will vindicate your viewpoint.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:40 AM on January 29, 2007


Actually, I'm not even so sure that American movies even established the grammar of western film. German, French and Russian directors had a formative influence, too.
posted by empath at 6:41 AM on January 29, 2007


"Pan's Labyrinth" is simply little more than a very stylish, very competently and professionally made 50's Hollywood homage.

Uh, what?
posted by empath at 6:42 AM on January 29, 2007


Great thread, all.

I don't have anything insightful to add, except to say that I'm 22 years old, and the monster with eyes in his hands scared me to a level I haven't experienced since before I could read. I saw the movie on Thursday, and I haven't been able to sleep without checking inside my closet first. True story.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 6:57 AM on January 29, 2007


...stories like Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia have elements that appeal to adults...

I think Lord of the Rings was written for adults to read to children, and Chronicles of Narnia was written for children to read to each other.

Sorry to go skipping a huge raft of comments, but this post makes me want to go see the film and I think many of the comments I skipped would ruin it for me.

Thanks for the recommendation, grapefruitmoon.
posted by breezeway at 6:58 AM on January 29, 2007


Well, it's nice that history will vindicate your viewpoint.

Me, too!

"Pan's Labyrinth" is simply little more than a very stylish, very competently and professionally made 50's Hollywood homage.

Sorry, that was hastily written and, now that I reread it, doesn't make much sense. I guess what I mean to say is that if you take away the special effects, the film is incredibly traditionally made. The lighting, the cutting, the angles of the shots, the movements of the camera - del Toro is working with very established filmmaking techniques, which I suppose works in the context of a period film. It is also a good contrast to the fairy-tale/fantastical elements of the story. But he's not really pushing the medium in any sort of way, and though he's a very good "writer" with the "language" of cinema, he's not using the language in a new or more dynamic way. Cuaron, on the other hand, has taken the elements of filmmaking and pushed them to a point that is more seemlessly "real" than traditional filmmaking ever has before. I would love to see what would happen if Cuaron made "Pan's Labyrinth" and del Toro made "Children of Men". I think (but of course don't know) that one would see that Cuaron is an absolute master of cinema and del Toro is more of an extremely skilled craftsman. I kept thinking, while watching "Pan's Labyrinth", "OH, COME ON!" and only later did I realize that it wasn't the story that was cliche, so much as the shots and the use of this really artificial, "painterly light", and I felt like I was watching a film that I had seen so many times before, a pleasant amalgamation of any number of other films where similar ideas of character and story are explored, in similar ways.
posted by billysumday at 6:59 AM on January 29, 2007


Another reason why this movie is not a fairy tale appropriate for children is that it doesn't fit the pattern of fairy tales from long ago. The point of the Grimm stories was that although horrible things happened to children, someone would always come in and save them. (The stories were meant to *comfort* children.) Didn't happen here.

This isn't my #1 film of the year, but it's definitely in my top ten. I think I liked Children of Men a little better. It had a more fully fleshed out world, and there were some truly amazing scenes filmed in what looked like continuous takes, with no cuts. (Maybe I was missing something.) It really pulled me into the movie in a way I've not experienced in a while.

On preview--agree with billysumday.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:02 AM on January 29, 2007


I liked the part at the end, when they blew up the Enterprise. I've never cried so hard in all my life.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:08 AM on January 29, 2007


1) Ofelia is warned something like 15 times to not eat from the hand-eye-monster's table, or horrible things will happen. Then she decides to eat from it anyway,
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:25 AM EST on January 29

This didn't bother me a bit because in fairy tales this always happens! In King Stork, the invisable hero steals food from the witches' table-- just begging to be caught; in Beauty and the Beast the father steals a rose, and in Little One-Eye, Little Two -eyes, Little Three-eyes (one of my favorites) Little Two-eye is told not to let anyone see her eat from the goat's banquet, but she gets careless and sings Little Three-eyes to sleep with this song:
Three-eyes, are you awake? Two-eyes are you asleep?
a very stupid mistake which leaves one of three-eyes' eyes awake to spy on her.

People seldom act sensibly in fairy tales.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:10 AM on January 29, 2007


empath:

Why two keys(Ofelia's and Mercedes) and why two knives(again, ofelia's and mercedes)?

I read elsewhere about another way to read the film. Instead of seeing Ofelia as the sole main character/hero, think of it as a film with two lead characters: Ofelia and Mercedes. A lot of parallels immediately emerge; you might even say that Ofelia is the hero of the fantasy side, and Mercedes is the hero of the "real" side.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 7:13 AM on January 29, 2007


I completely agree with Joakim. It's all well and good that her eating the grapes might be some symbolism for resistance, etc., but symbolism doesn't work if the actual action behind it doesn't make sense.

Sure, she went to bed without dinner, but someone who reads fairy tales all the time would have to know that the "don't do X" is a timeworn tradition - I thought it was a poor decision, and they didn't flesh out the temptation enough. We're led to believe this girl is pretty savvy about the fairy tale world - an error like that, regardless of what Else It Was Supposed To Mean, Dudes, looked like a really unlikely choice for Ofelia to make, and thus one that was solely motivated by the need to forward the plot.

I agree with the sentiment that the characters were broadly painted, like, "Here's The Bad Guy, Look How Ruthless, Except He's Real Because Some Cliched Crap About His Father" and "Here's The Good Guy Because She Has Empathy." It was a total situation of The Emperor Has No Clothes with his movie. It reminded me a lot of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, where people started crapping their pants about how amazing this film was. Sure, it looked beautiful, but I think at a very real expense of the actual story.

But then, I also felt like Children of Men was a huge disappointment, so maybe it's just me.
posted by mckenney at 7:34 AM on January 29, 2007


McKenney -- I have to ask-- what movies DO you like?
posted by empath at 7:44 AM on January 29, 2007


In what way is a man smashing his timepiece at the moment of his death in order to let his child know when he died a cliche? I don't recall ever having seen it in a film before, and I have seen a lot of films.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:47 AM on January 29, 2007


"Actually, I'm not even so sure that American movies even established the grammar of western film. German, French and Russian directors had a formative influence, too."

Yes, but arguing that the narrative film in the 20th Century is not primarily an American form even despite the huge sine qua non of other (primarily European) influences is to confuse garnishes with meals. The montage is incredibly important to modern cinema, as is the verite style of the French New Wave, but in terms of money, in terms of audience, in terms of the blunt mass of cinema, you're simply engaging in feel-good contrarianism to argue otherwise. And as America was the primary source for war movies, especially WWII movies, for so long, the sea-change that comes after Vietnam IS important to global cinema.
I'd say the best analogy is pop music— while there are many local flavors (and I both listen to and enjoy many of them), ignoring the tremendous export force of the American entertainment industry for good or ill is silly.
posted by klangklangston at 7:51 AM on January 29, 2007


(Or to put it another way— American imperialism is a real force culturally, especially with popular media.)
posted by klangklangston at 7:53 AM on January 29, 2007


Yes and no. I would say that in terms of modern cinema, this is a unique entity in that it's a film in fairy tale form that is completely inappropriate for children. (Defined as anyone under the age of say, 13.)

Ahem, Jan Svankmajer's Faust and Otesánik? Or Guy Maddin's Saddest Music in the World and Twilight of the Ice Nymphs? Perhaps Peter Greenaway? Or for that matter, much of horror cinema maps to some fairly traditional fairy tales and ghost stories.

I've heard lots of great things about Pan's Labyrinth but the whole "fairy tale for adults" structure doesn't strike me as especially outrageous.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:10 AM on January 29, 2007


The captain was based on the figures "Chronos" and "Saturn" (Time) of classical mythology. This is clear from the pocketwatch he carries, his meticulous observations of time, and from his desire to "consume" his male offspring and lineage by bequeathing the Saturn archetype to him (in the form of the watch, natch). It's also alluded to in the Goya-like murals on the walls of the second quest, and its monster, which look a bit like this guy.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:13 AM on January 29, 2007


McKenney -- I have to ask-- what movies DO you like?

You want a list? What difference does it make? Are you implying because I didn't like Pan's Labyrinth or Children of Men, I must like really stupid movies? Or is it genuine interest?

I don't know what could be more cliched than "The man trying to live up to the standard that his father set." I remember it was a central point of another movie...oh yeah, Top Gun.

Look, it's nothing personal. I don't think you guys are dicks or anything for liking the movie - I just expected more from it than what I got out of it. It was pretty and bleak, but I felt like there were a lot of choices made that felt really Traditional Hollywood shorthand.

I mentioned this elsewhere online, but what was most disappointing for me was that it came so close to being really terrific, but fell short in some crucial areas that actually kept me from being emotionally invested in the characters, thus dampening the effect of the film.
posted by mckenney at 8:16 AM on January 29, 2007


I completely agree with Joakim. It's all well and good that her eating the grapes might be some symbolism for resistance, etc., but symbolism doesn't work if the actual action behind it doesn't make sense.

Sure, she went to bed without dinner, but someone who reads fairy tales all the time would have to know that the "don't do X" is a timeworn tradition - I thought it was a poor decision, and they didn't flesh out the temptation enough.


The fairies told her to use her magic key to unlock the central box, but she sensed that they were wrong, unlocked the far left box, and retrieved the magic knife. On her way out, when the fairies warned her not to eat the grapes, she felt cocky and trusted her own judgment over theirs.
posted by stammer at 8:17 AM on January 29, 2007


Oh, and

What was the deal with the frog?

The frog was like the fascists gathered around the dinner table, eating a ludicrously expensive meal while talking about how they were going to cut rations to the locals.
posted by stammer at 8:20 AM on January 29, 2007


Saw it Saturday. Beatiful, creepy yes. But smart, soulful, thoughtful, not so much.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:25 AM on January 29, 2007


Mkenney— And the conflict between the rebels and the government? That's so totally Star Wars!
It just comes across as complaining about seeing 'another one of those movies where there are people in them' sort of things. And if you can't qualitatively differentiate between Top Gun and Pan's Labyrinth, you just might be unable to connect with films on a more than superficial level.
posted by klangklangston at 8:28 AM on January 29, 2007


I don't know what could be more cliched than "The man trying to live up to the standard that his father set." I remember it was a central point of another movie...oh yeah, Top Gun.

I wouldn't necessarily call that a cliche. Firstly, the Captain's relationship with his father was more ambivalent than that, reflected by his repairing his father's stopwatch, thus eliminating the fact that it told the time of his father's death, and the fact that he later denied his father had a stopwatch at all.

But, even if you are correct that it is a theme of the movie, calling one of the great themes of Western literature (which is found not just in Top Gun but also in Death of a Salesman, in East of Eden, and in the relationship between Chris Cooper and his son in American beauty, as well as in the Chosen, and well as dozens of other works I can think of) a cliche is a little like calling "man versus nature" or "man versus himself" a cliche. The cliche in not in the choice of theme, but in how the theme is detailed. In this instance, I find the expression of the theme to be quite original.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:34 AM on January 29, 2007


stammer: thanks -- I had forgotten about that meal-- which also had a parallel with the table of the pale man. I'll have to think about that some more.
posted by empath at 8:34 AM on January 29, 2007


Yeah. I so totally don't like those movies that like, make me think, dude! It's like, way too hard!

What I was trying to say, poorly, is that it struck me as a crappily conventional way to try to cram some depth into a character in an attempt to keep him from becoming a cartoon. Unfortunately, because of the one-note nature of the "complexity", I felt like it made him even more of a caricature of Evil, which makes him infinitely less frightening.
posted by mckenney at 8:36 AM on January 29, 2007


I see your point. Del Torro is a popular filmmaker with a taste toward comic books and action scenes. I think both are capable of great complexity and moral ambiguity, but, as always, YMMV.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:45 AM on January 29, 2007



What I was trying to say, poorly, is that it struck me as a crappily conventional way to try to cram some depth into a character in an attempt to keep him from becoming a cartoon. Unfortunately, because of the one-note nature of the "complexity", I felt like it made him even more of a caricature of Evil, which makes him infinitely less frightening.


I think the problem here is that you are saying the movie is fails at something it was not trying to do. I think he was going for archetype not realism.
posted by empath at 8:49 AM on January 29, 2007


McKenney, I think a lot of your trouble in enjoying this movie has to do with the primal language it employs. It's no intense character study, nor does it beg for psychoanalysis. But it is very literate in its use of classical myth and folktale tropes, and if you don't watch for and recognize these contents, the rest will seem one-dimensional. Some of Yeats' more deceptively complex poetry has this same property.

Some of the works he drew on for inspiration include Jorge Luis Borges' Labyrinths, 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 Saturn Devouring His Son.

While I was watching the movie, I wondered to myself what someone who'd never seen Goya, who'd never heard of Saturn, might think of the Captain. Without any footing in myth, he'd come off a caricature, an "evil stepfather," a Spielberg Nazi of a Fascist. There's no psychology to play with here - his head is empty. With the framework of myth in place, however, he's horrifying, as is his monstrous analogue in the second quest. He doesn't want his sons to follow in his footsteps. He wants to *eat* them, just like he was eaten by the last generation.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:02 AM on January 29, 2007


I think he was going for archetype not realism.

Well, that may be true in a broad sense, but at some level, I would think that if you are going to make a film about the rigidity and soullessness of fascism, you'd like it to resonate in a realistic way on at least some level. Why would a Mexican filmmaker make a film about the tumultuous, repressive era of Franco's Spain if he had nothing new to say and was interested solely in archetypes? The contrast between the reality of Ofelia's (Spanish) life and the fantasy of Ofelia's life is lessed when both are as cartoonish and predictable as a fairytale. I think that this was a small misstep for del Toro and is the reason why, as I mentioned earlier, a director like Cuaron could have turned this film into something both grounded and magical instead of just cartoony and magicalish. Regardless, it is still a very well made film - unfortunately I don't think it quite acheives what it grasps for, in my very humble opinion.
posted by billysumday at 9:09 AM on January 29, 2007


Reading this thread makes me realize that looking at a movie in the simplest or most complicated way possible to make it sound awful is really, really easy.

Come on, people. So the main characters made a few "horror movie protagonist" blunders. The production values were outstanding! The story was definitely well-told, if not a marvel of consistency; but keep in mind that when involving magic and warping reality, the merit of a story is not how down-to-earth and reasonable to can keep it.. it's how fantastic and wonderful you can make it.
posted by tehloki at 9:12 AM on January 29, 2007


I think the problem here is that you are saying the movie is fails at something it was not trying to do. I think he was going for archetype not realism.

Right. And for archetype to have any real impact (I'm going to define that for me, personally, as "stirring a thought or emotion that had previously not been stirred or thought, at least for some time, or in that particular way, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant,") it has to be used in a unique manner. Archetypes are tools, shorthand, cliches, to be used as building blocks and add depth to something (a story, film, poem, play, music) which does not have the capacity to contain all the baggage which the archetype brings - and those bags are filled with all sorts of neat junk from all sorts of travels through different cultures and times and uses!

It's frustrating, then, when either the audience is too savvy (and the use of the archetype does nothing new for them) or the author/director/artist is not savvy enough, or does not trust their audience enough, to use these archetypes to play off of story elements in such a way to bring out new ideas, feelings, tones, expressions.

And it doesn't have to be thought about, necessarily - the Author's Voice, when listened to clearly and utilized by the author clearly, is ALWAYS powerfully unique and expressive, in ways that will always surprise your audience. Every single person has their own unique experience that brings it's own baggage along for the trip with the archetypes, and when you compare those little souvenirs, you realize that hey- you can go on the same trip with somebody and bring back totally different things.

It's when the Author/Director does not trust their own voice enough, or does not trust that the audience will "buy" their voice, that it seems they rely mostly on the junk in the Luggage of the Archetypes. And, while a lot of those souvenirs (say, a model of the Statue of Liberty) may seem to some people like a really swell representation of a place (say, New York), some other people (say, those who've been to New York, or lived there) will realize that it doesn't really represent that place that well (if you've ever lived in New York, how often do you go to or even think about the Statue of Liberty?).

I felt that in both Children of Men and Pan's Labyrinth - two very excellently constructed pieces of film, the directors fell short of my expectations in the realm of Director's Voice. Compare these two films to, say, 12 Monkeys and Heavenly Creatures, or even Spirited Away. I think these both flirted with it, but never fully felt like something really unique and personal. This isn't to say that they were bad or not worthwhile, I just don't think they were all that great.

Oh, and, I don't think it's necessary to be all super unique, "personal" (when I say that, I mean, "with a unique perspective" - not "it's about my personal experience and not yours") and "different" when telling a story - in fact, you have to be careful that the Author's Voice/Director's Voice doesn't interfere with the storytelling. I think filmmakers as different as David Lynch and Alfred Hitchcock both make incredibly unique films utilizing archetypes, clearly told, and unmistakably in their own voices.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 9:19 AM on January 29, 2007


Reading this thread makes me realize that looking at a movie in the simplest or most complicated way possible to make it sound awful is really, really easy.

Well, some people are better at than others. The good ones are usually hired by The New Yorker, or the LA Times, or some such institution, and are asked to articulate the reasons why a film fails or succeeds. Sometimes people criticize movies not because they hate them, but because they love them.
posted by billysumday at 9:20 AM on January 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


To some of the people struggling whether or not they liked the film, I'd say: see it again. On second viewing, much of what I thought I knew for sure about Pan's Labyrinth completely flipped, not least of all the ending, which I understood exactly the other way around the second time. Mercedes has a line about not believing in fairies anymore because they can be untrustworthy, and in a way the movie is a Rohrschach test for your own belief in the redemptive power of the imagination--how you read it reveals how much you resemble the Captain or Ofelia. Then there's the story of the flower that grants immortal life, and the last shot of the film, which shows a flower in bloom on the toad's tree--clearly some sort of hint. There's much to be discovered here, and it'd be a shame to dismiss the movie because it wasn't what you expected.
posted by muckster at 9:22 AM on January 29, 2007


looking at a movie in the simplest or most complicated way possible to make it sound awful is really, really easy.

Good point. What movie cannot be reduced to a cliche if you're willing to reduce it?

Goodfellas -- Crime doesn't pay, oh, that's deep.

Inland Empire -- Cheating on your spouse will get you in trouble -- anther red-state preach-fest

Silence of the Lambs -- god, another slasher movie?

Late Spring -- family wants a girl to get married, just like Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Repo Man -- Oh, a teenage rebel! How original!
posted by Bookhouse at 9:53 AM on January 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


The frog was like the fascists gathered around the dinner table, eating a ludicrously expensive meal while talking about how they were going to cut rations to the locals.

The thing is, I pretty much agree with mckenney. As much film-school analysis as we want to do, it's not a great movie. You can't just say "X symbolized y but you were too dumb to get it and you hate movies dumbass!"

That's not what movies do and that's not what movies are. Movies express a theme through action. Symbolism is nice, but it's another layer on top of the story, which needs to consistently express a theme for a movie to really work. (see Robert McKee's 'Story", etc) if you meander here and there showing a random series of images and scenes that may or may not be symbolic of something, that is not a great story.

That said, beautiful movie visually. Decent story, needed more focus and a few more drafts of the script. Characters were a bit thin. And no, I'm not going to see it again. I don't owe the filmmaker, or any artist, that. I experience works of art exactly as many times as they motivate me to. It's a decent movie, and if it came on HBO I might watch a bit. But if I'm going to watch movies again, I'll watch something that will reward me. (One example is "The Hudsucker Proxy" which I just saw for the first time)
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:56 AM on January 29, 2007


I've been a big fan of Del Toro's since Mimic, and have been following this project for about a year now. When the trailer came out, I forced all my friends to watch it. God it's a gorgeous film, and I'll go so far as to say it's a very good film (for reasons that have been mentioned already). Unfortunately I found the characters very thin, especially when compared to The Devil's Backbone, and that's what kept me from bouncing out of the theater at the end.

I'm happy to see Del Toro getting some critical recognition, but I don't understand how this film can be nominated for original screenplay while Devil's Backbone wasn't.
posted by brundlefly at 10:31 AM on January 29, 2007


I see I'm late to the party but I just saw this movie last night and was really impressed. I don't see many movies on the big screen but I was thoroughly whisked away for a good 2 hours or so, which is all I ask for in a movie. I thought it was flawless and will be seeing this movie again on DVD. I'm still waiting to see Children of Men, but I'm definitely recommending this one to everyone.

That said I was expecting more Mirrormask type fantasy than the Facist/Rebellion story that we got, but I'm not dissapointed at all.

The ending was ambiguous and I was heartbroken at first, but then I decided to believe in the magic and felt better.

I really can't remember a movie that keep me awake thinking about it since I was a kid, I did feel that sense of wonder while watching it. And for a movie to bring forth such discussion like this on Mefi speaks for itself. I don't seem to recall us having such a heated discussion about Saw III, do you?

[on preview: I just added The Devil's Backbone to the top of my Netflix queue, so I'm looking forward to watching that one]
posted by daHIFI at 10:40 AM on January 29, 2007


Typewrite types:
...When she made the error with the fruit, the faun said that she would never see the otherworldly creatures again. And, the mandrake baby magic also ceased to work after that. So perhaps, at that point, Ofelia created the rest?

This helped me make sense of the rebel theme - Ofelia sells out by eating the grapes from the table feast and after that her visions are just a fantasy.
posted by mouthnoize at 10:49 AM on January 29, 2007


Stammer: The frog was like the fascists gathered around the dinner table, eating a ludicrously expensive meal while talking about how they were going to cut rations to the locals.

drjimmy11:The thing is, I pretty much agree with mckenney. As much film-school analysis as we want to do, it's not a great movie. You can't just say "X symbolized y but you were too dumb to get it and you hate movies dumbass!"

But I don't see how that parallel could have been any more straightforward. I think he even put in a (excessive) cut from the key in the frog's stomach directly to the key to the captain's larder. There were also cuts to the beleaguered rebels while a voiceover introduced the metaphor of the starving tree. I don't think what Stammer said constitutes a convoluted film-school analysis at all - it's very reasonable.

I think you are correct in saying that the film was spread thin thematically, but "theme through action" sounds like the "show don't tell" mantras that are useful in moderation but poisonous if taken as a rule. Myth and poetry are longer traditions than film, and have more obscure and oblique modes of storytelling, and less adherence to the pragmatic and by-the-numbers tropes that are sometimes followed in writing for tv and screen. If a movie wants to try for a more arcane, less commercial style of storytelling, I'm all for it.

That said, I appreciate that this can be seen as a legitimate weakness in the film. Personally, dialogue counts a lot for me, and this movie's dialogue didn't stick in my mind. But the fact that del Toro has real literacy with myth and with classical allusions went a long way, for me.

Also, does every film with a labyrinth need to have a chase scene through the maze?
posted by kid ichorous at 10:52 AM on January 29, 2007


David Bowie was awesome as the Goblin King!
posted by tkchrist at 10:53 AM on January 29, 2007


You can't argue with taste, no matter how many times you tell someone that a movie they hated was great or a movie they loved sucked, it isn't going to change their minds (to this, as in most things, there are exception, but generally it holds true).

Okay, now that this is out of the way, back to the movie. Originally I was very skeptical of treating this as a direct allegory, but I've slowly come around. And so I offer this thought, the Captain's fairyland analogue isn't only the eater of babies (note though, how he sat at the head of the table like Vidal did) but also the task-setting, time-obsessed faun.

klangklangston: Yes, but arguing that the narrative film in the 20th Century is not primarily an American form even despite the huge sine qua non of other (primarily European) influences is to confuse garnishes with meals.

You're confusing dominance with innovation. The same logic would dictate that Windows is the primary OS innovator because it dominates the market. I'm not saying that American film has not come up with new styles and techniques, but thinking back on 20th Century movie history it seems to me that the most of the major innovators were not Americans. Sure, the list of American masters is long, Coppola, Peckinpah, Hughes, Lynch, Griffith, Altman, Tarantino et cetera. No single country may equal the US in a country vs. country match-up, but it's hardly controversial to say that the rest of the world combined has brought more to the table in terms of innovation than the US.

drjimmy11: That's not what movies do and that's not what movies are. Movies express a theme through action. Symbolism is nice, but it's another layer on top of the story, which needs to consistently express a theme for a movie to really work. (see Robert McKee's 'Story", etc)

Well, I'm glad that's settled then.
posted by Kattullus at 11:09 AM on January 29, 2007


The Captain was pretty well fleshed-out


[rimshot]
posted by cowbellemoo at 11:13 AM on January 29, 2007


Robert McKee's Story? Jesus, I'm sorry, but the citing of that manual for asshole producers is final confirmation that the Haters have no soul.
posted by Artw at 11:18 AM on January 29, 2007


drjimmy11 writes "That's not what movies do and that's not what movies are. Movies express a theme through action. Symbolism is nice, but it's another layer on top of the story, which needs to consistently express a theme for a movie to really work. (see Robert McKee's 'Story", etc)"

As they say on the internet, ROTFLMAO.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:40 AM on January 29, 2007


Bahaha... yeah, symbolism is just like, the frosting on the frosting, man. Yeah. Movies should be totally up-front and blatant with every single point they're going to make. I just wanna see some people fuckin', maybe some people killin' each other, and I want it to all be unconnected and meaningless.

Hell, actually, that wouldn't be half-bad...
posted by tehloki at 11:50 AM on January 29, 2007


And if you've actually read Story, he goes out of his way to say precisely the opposite; that his book is only a manual for telling a specific kind of story, and he gives plenty of counter-examples of successful movies which are nearly plotless.
posted by empath at 12:13 PM on January 29, 2007


He says that... and then goes on to write a book that states everything in very absoluist terms, which is then quoted in very absolutist terms by people with no creative spark whatsoever who think they know everything because they've read a book, and then we end up with endless bland, borting cookie-cutter crap that meets all the requirements of Story but fails to be good or interesting on any level whatsoever.

Thanks but no thanks.
posted by Artw at 1:21 PM on January 29, 2007


"No single country may equal the US in a country vs. country match-up, but it's hardly controversial to say that the rest of the world combined has brought more to the table in terms of innovation than the US."

You're confusing innovation with influence. In terms of how stories are told on film, and especially in terms of the Western canon of war films, which was only a goddamned aside to my point to begin with, the American influence on the medium is by far the dominant one.
posted by klangklangston at 1:35 PM on January 29, 2007


... full of cliches and overt manipulations of filmmaking, and "Children of Men" will be seen as this sort of step forward in filmmaking, toward something more natural, organic, and realistic (what was that that Bazin said about realism and cinema...).

Why are the cliches of one genre worse than the cliches of "realistic" and "more natural" and "organic" genres?

I'm reminded of Tom Wolfe saying Kafka was a bad writer because he didn't write like Tom Wolfe did, which is supposedly more natural and realistic. We're fortunate to have all sorts of writers and all sorts of film makers and bugger the value based criticism.

The captain reminded me instantly of a Nobodaddy type figure mixed with a number of other archetypes. Metaphors and symbolism, of course, can illustrate truths. The cruelty is a demonic parody of creativity often associated with those who fight for a deified rational world.
posted by juiceCake at 3:20 PM on January 29, 2007


You say "cliché," I say "trope." That seems to be the basis for a lot of the differences here. If we turned our post-Romantic snark-beams towards classical and medieval works (or pretty much all pre-WWII opera), insisting on "new" and "unique," we would take issue with most if not all of them. Considering that the film took fairy tales as both a central theme and a stylistic model, it didn't surprise me that most of the events and characters reminded me of things I had previously encountered in Roald Dahl, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, or Tristan and Isolde.

As for my own "I saw it" story, I went to check this out when it opened here in Paris last October. I had seen the ads all over the subway, but I didn't have a TV or anything, so I hadn't really seen any of the press coverage/reviews. Without realizing that Del Toro was behind it, I went to check it out, based entirely on the Tim Burton-esque tone of the posters. When I got in line, I noticed that the movie was rated 13+ and there was a sign saying (in French)"Warning: disturbing scenes." I paid it no heed, and the first act of brutality totally caught me off guard. Del Toro had this practice throughout the movie of staying in the shot just one second beyond when you expected it to cut away to spare you the tearing flesh or spattering blood.

Although there hasn't been much mention of it on here, what I remember most about this movie was the visceral reactions it elicited from me. I can witness a fair bit of gore before wincing, but something about the FX and the sound totally did me in. I sorta think the frequent bursts physical violence "affectively primed" me for the more emotional parts; I was already feeling pretty raw.
posted by LMGM at 3:53 PM on January 29, 2007


klangklangston: You're confusing innovation with influence. In terms of how stories are told on film, and especially in terms of the Western canon of war films, which was only a goddamned aside to my point to begin with, the American influence on the medium is by far the dominant one.

Well, I don't really know that much about war movies specifically, and I have no reason to doubt you on that (incidentally, have you seen A Midnight Clear? It's an excellent WWII movie from '92 that has been little seen. If you feel like a double-feature of obscurish 90's American WWII you could watch it along with When Trumpets Fade). I do resist, though, carrying that point over to film in general, RestOfWorldCinema is hardly garnish to the meal of American flicks.

However, like in another (lesser) fairytalefilm about WWII, The Rocketeer, let's not fight each other like mobsters and police when we can unite against those who can't take a bit of magic along with their realism.
posted by Kattullus at 4:56 PM on January 29, 2007


Of the three movies by Mexican directors that got Oscar nominations, Pan's Labyrinth is the one I liked the least. It's not a bad movie by any means, but some aspects of it (in particular, the completely over-the-top evil of Ofelia's stepfather) detracted from my enjoyment of it.

And on that note, Children of Men got robbed. It should've been nominated for Best Picture.
posted by Target Practice at 4:57 PM on January 29, 2007


It's all well and good that her eating the grapes might be some symbolism for resistance, etc., but symbolism doesn't work if the actual action behind it doesn't make sense.

Are you serious? A woman is told by a supernatural being not to eat the fruit, because it is explicitly linked to the knowledge of good and evil: but she's weak, yields to temptation, and eats it anyway?

And that's a story that no one can make sense out of, never heard it before, came right out of left field?

What planet do you movie viewers come from? Really.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:40 PM on January 29, 2007


It was OK to eat the grapes because her great-great-grandmother would have recognized them as food.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:50 PM on January 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


the head fascist & his sadistic henchman were presented as evil personified

I got the impression that the Captain was in fact trying to do the best he could, knowing that his military career at the very least, and almost certainly his life as well, was on the line. His job was to suppress the rebels, but he couldn't achieve that. In fact they were more or less rubbing his nose in that fact, taking great risks that he nonetheless failed to anticipate. The trouble was, he was utterly lost in situations he could not control. He kept tightening his grip but it was useless. He couldn't control his family any better than he could control the rebels. And he loathed himself more and more for each failure, often dwelling on what his father would think of him.

A nuanced and not unsympathetic villain for this sort of tale, I think.
posted by kindall at 8:55 PM on January 29, 2007


kindall: nicely put, but regardless, I found myself completely unable to believe that a real person would behave in the way he did. Somebody upthread put it in a nutshell: of course he was unrealistic - it's a fairy tale!
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:16 PM on January 29, 2007


Interesting discussion, thanks. I liked the movie.

Why would a Mexican filmmaker make a film about the tumultuous, repressive era of Franco's Spain if he had nothing new to say and was interested solely in archetypes?

I think it may be a misapprehension to say that the film is 'about' anything other than itself, which in no way diminishes it. But sometimes the thinking, fun as it is, can suck all the juice out of things, leaving them unappetizing, so I won't go any further down that particular rabbit hole.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:31 PM on January 29, 2007


Yes, enjoying this discussion.
Kattullus - the Captain's fairyland analogue isn't only the eater of babies (note though, how he sat at the head of the table like Vidal did) but also the task-setting, time-obsessed faun.
I certainly thought so. At the very end the Faun essentially says as much, telling Ofelia that she passed her tests by NOT strictly following orders: chose a different door to find the knife, ate the grapes, wouldn't give him the baby. I also thought his speech after the Pale Man episode, when she gets the fairies killed, was basically just meant to up the ante for later. He always intended to "give her one more chance", and by threatening meant to pressure her even more to just follow orders.

Also, excuse the stupid here, was it just me or was Vidal looking to commit suicide by rebel during the shootout in the woods that ends in the stuttering rebel's capture? I recall him repeatedly looking at the watch, as if waiting for just the proper moment (same as his father's death?) to step out of cover and catch a bullet...? When the fight ends he seems strangely unhappy for a few moments while the other guy is going about putting bullets through the rebels' heads. This fits with the bit about cutting his reflection's throat while checking the watch earlier. Perhaps I am remembering this wrong...?

After leaving the theater, I said to the SO "well that was good and sad."
She said "why? She got to be a princess!"
I told her "If you think that, then I've got some bad news about Santa Claus for you."
I like that ambiguity unresolved enough that we can see it so differently.
posted by zoinks at 11:54 PM on January 29, 2007


"I do resist, though, carrying that point over to film in general, RestOfWorldCinema is hardly garnish to the meal of American flicks."

Yeah, that was hyperbole.
Bu I am curious about the flicks you mentioned, so thanks.
posted by klangklangston at 5:48 AM on January 30, 2007


Feh, it would have been easier just to stick an icepick in my forehead instead of seeing this movie and get slammed with all the intellectually pompous, mind-numbing symbolism.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:37 PM on January 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, it's never too late!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:34 PM on January 31, 2007


"Well, it's never too late!"

And this comment is in reference to? Hoping it wasn't at my comment because if so, stavrosthewonderchicken, you might want to review:

note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand -- not at other members of the site.


Years from now I think many people will look back at Pan's Labyrinth with the same attitude some now view Citizen Kane, that they were awed by it because they felt they were supposed to be. Groupthink.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:20 AM on February 1, 2007


OH NO, FUSE, WILL YOU TATTLE?
posted by klangklangston at 6:06 AM on February 1, 2007


The problem with that, fuse, is that Citizen Kane is actually really good.

*points @ fuse theorem and screeches*
posted by brundlefly at 9:42 AM on February 1, 2007


De gustibus etc. etc.

But seriously, you found this film too sophisticated for your sensibilities? Citizen Kane? The mind reels....
posted by mr_roboto at 11:55 AM on February 1, 2007


"OH NO, FUSE, WILL YOU TATTLE?"

And to whom would I be tattling?

"The problem with that, fuse, is that Citizen Kane is actually really good."

I don't disagree, I said "some now view" not "I now view" in my comment. I would put CK at #2 on my best film list, right after Casablanca. However, there are many people who don't like it for reasons similar to why I don't like Pan's Labyrinth.

"De gustibus etc. etc." Ooh, I love it when you talk Latin. Apparently I didn't articulate my thoughts very well. I think Citizen Kane is a work of art, but many people do not. The reasons I've seen for people disliking it are often similar to why I don't like Pan's Labyrinth. Reel that mind back in mr_roboto, I'm not a film unsophisticate and I don't let films demand that I like them because they're all loaded with symbolism and sh*t.
posted by fuse theorem at 4:03 PM on February 1, 2007


Hoping it wasn't at my comment because if so, stavrosthewonderchicken, you might want to review

You know, I would, but I've got this icepick sticking out of my forehead.

It was a joke, friend, inspired by your overheated hyperbole.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:40 PM on February 1, 2007


Hyperbole? Perhaps. Overheated? Nuh uh. Maybe it's the way I express myself that's the problem here? Oh well...

I loathed that film with the same passion that many of you apparently loved it. I'm just trying to counterbalance all the orgasmic gushing. Guess I got your attention, so my work is done.

Bye now, I'm off to get a lobotomy to remove all traces of Pan's Labyrinth from my brain. The ice pick will come in handy.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:14 PM on February 1, 2007


stavros: my theory is that he's just got a short fuse.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:35 PM on February 1, 2007


"short fuse". U guyz r teh clevah!

Bad theory, wrong pronoun, Pan's Labyrinth still sucks.
posted by fuse theorem at 7:28 PM on February 1, 2007


For a five dolla newb, you sure ooze edgy attitude, there, ft.

You're going to fit right in, at least until you flame out.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:14 PM on February 1, 2007


Wrong pronoun? Make that a very short fuse, then.

I see no point in descending into this "your favourite movie sucks" rubbish, but nor am I a fan of hypocrisy. You deride people who liked Pan's Labyrinth as indulging in groupthink, and yet you cite Casablanca, of all movies, as your favourite?

Seriously, that has to be the most overrated movie of all time, watchable, sure, but mediocre at best, its reputation based solely on the same kind of pretentious yet ignorant middle-class suburban flavour of groupthink that hypes the Mona Lisa as the unsurpassable height of art.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:17 PM on February 1, 2007


As opposed to surrealist theater. That Jarry was never praised unduly!
posted by klangklangston at 8:22 PM on February 1, 2007


*merdre!*
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:49 PM on February 1, 2007


Geebus cripes, how did this become all about me? I don't like Pan's Labyrinth, a lot, even though pretty much everyone else in the world does, and I'm willing to express it in the face of disagreement. I like Casablanca for reasons that I won't go into now (perhaps that's for another thread), but it's not because a whole lot of other people like it too or because there's are lines from it that everyone likes to misquote. I've practically studied that film; the only way I'll see PL again is if I'm subjected to some kind of Clockwork Orange-type torture.

Being capable of independent thought or an ability to express oneself dramatically doesn't = a quick temper, overheatedness, PMS, or whatever derogatory slant you want to put on it, and I'm finding that interpretation odd and interesting. This started because I didn't appreciate the way stavros came at me in response to my original comment. I'll accept that it was a joke but it was still close to being out of line, in my opinion.

Perhaps some people here need to step the hell off of *their* attitudes, which aren't exactly coming across as welcoming or tolerant. I may be considered a "newb" in this group but I'm not a novice to this game. A flame war might be fun...or not. Toodles.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:38 AM on February 2, 2007


I'm not a novice to this game.

Funny, given that you behave like one. *shrugs*

I'll accept that it was a joke but it was still close to being out of line

Either it was a joke, or the very first time I ever noticed you, I really suggested in all seriousness that you stick an icepick in your forehead. You decide.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:55 AM on February 3, 2007


My money's on option 2. Everyone knows not to fuck with the chicken.
posted by graventy at 1:18 PM on February 3, 2007


Am I the only one who heard a tinkling noise (movie aural shorthand for "magic") immediately before Ofelia ate the grapes? The way I remember it, her demeanor changed from fear to detached calm after the noise, and I assumed she was under some sort of spell cast by the Pale Man.

I have no idea how her being under a spell might fit into the various allegories suggested above.

Great movie, all in all, second only to Children of Men on my best of '06 list.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:31 AM on February 6, 2007


The Card Cheat writes "Am I the only one who heard a tinkling noise (movie aural shorthand for 'magic') immediately before Ofelia ate the grapes? The way I remember it, her demeanor changed from fear to detached calm after the noise, and I assumed she was under some sort of spell cast by the Pale Man."

I don't recall the tinkling, but I got the impression she was under a spell as well.
posted by brundlefly at 11:32 AM on February 6, 2007


There's also other images from the sketchbook plus audio commentary from Del Toro on premiere.com. (Not the same audio commentary as in the sketchbook section on the film website already linked above, it's clips from an actual interview.)
posted by pleeker at 5:46 AM on February 26, 2007


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