A little girl and her pregnant mother are relocated to an army camp to be with the unborn baby’s father, an officious and sadistic captain in Franco’s fascist military.
Pan’s Labyrinth is a Gothic fantasy that sees a young girl escape into a world of fauns, fairies and political allegory to escape her cold, cruel, clock-watching, jack-booted step-father who is a kindred spirit of Schindler’s List’s Goethe. Once again Guillermo Del Toro blends beautiful imagery with an affecting war story and the result is an enchanting experience that mirrors the fight between good and evil in both the real world and a young child’s imagination in a way that reminded me of the work of Hayao Miyazaki. Young Ivana Baquero puts in a performance that belies her tender years and the stunning visuals create a fantasy world that is beautiful yet conveys a suitably dark and disturbing undercurrent in Del Toro’s inimitable style.
The two stories didn’t quite gel together for me, feeling more like two separate stories told in parallel and so I must admit I prefer The Devil’s backbone, but fans of Tim Burton and Jean-Pierre Jeunet will adore it.