Pan’s Labyrinth tells us we live within two worlds: one informs and changes the other. Visually mesmerizing, winner of multiple Academy awards, Pan’s Labyrinth is Guillermo Del Toro’s most personal film. An unusual director’s prologue enlightens the viewer as to the extent of personal sacrifice. Strong Christian themes of good versus evil, mystery in suffering, choice, and innocence mark the movie throughout. Set designs, costuming, acting, editing, and direction are impeccable. The film is beautiful. A young girl, Ofelia, is taken by her lonely mother to meet her new “father”; a fascist Spanish captain during World War II. Trapped within cruel environs, Ofelia trusts in stories found through her prize possessions, books. Fiction becomes reality as only the child can experience the intrusion of adult purloined fables upon her increasingly violent existence. The centerpiece in the movie comes about when the camp maid Mercedes is asked by Ofelia if she believes in fairy tales. “I used to when I was young. I used to believe in a lot of things I no longer believe in.” Disbelief is immediately countered by a funeral scene where the mystery of God’s work in a broken world is explored. Moviegoers will question what was real: the world or the fairy tale. The response must be “both.” No one captures the subtleties of a Christian worldview like Del Toro. Catholic underpinnings or not, the director has shown us the intersection of natural and supernatural worlds.
Subtitled. Rated R for graphic violence, some profanity, and gruesome evil creatures.
Once again, supernatural constraints move our spirits. Dr. Mark Eckel is Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Crossroads Bible College.