Pan's Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno)
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A dark, twisted and beautiful adventure, ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ seamlessly blends the real and supernatural in a visually stunning fantasy about Falangist Spain. Young Ofelia travels with her mother to the home of her new stepfather, the cruel and ruthless Captain Vidal, who is engaged in an ongoing battle with local rebels. Ofelia becomes intrigued by a stick insect, which she is convinced is magical. And indeed, while she tries to get used to her new home, the insect turns into a fairy, who leads her to an abandoned labyrinth. There she meets a faun who sets her on a path to saving herself and her ailing mother.
As Ofelia moves between the magical world of the labyrinth and the brutal conflict of her home, the film is wonderfully ambiguous as to whether the labyrinth is merely a product of her overactive imagination. Ofelia is a lover of fairy tales, and it is her firm belief in the enchanted realm that provides ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ with its enduring charm. The Academy-award winning production design of Eugenio Caballero is exquisite, no small feat considering the complex and often layered interplay between the worlds—and an achievement that many production designers cite today as a benchmark of creative film design.