Pan's Labyrinth is the most beautiful and exquisite film I have seen in the last few years. Guillermo Del Toro has crafted a masterpiece of cinema that slowly bends reality into fantasy. The film is about a young girl named Ofelia who is living in post-war Spain. Her father has died and now she and her pregnant mother are traveling into the country to live with the prestigious Captain Vidal, whom her mother has now remarried with. Captain Vidal is introduced in an early scene as a barbaric murderer who is only interested in Ofelia's mother to bear his child so that his son can grow up with his name. Ofelia escapes into a world of fantasy and horror that is equally as disturbing as the real life events going on around her with the war. There are two parallel storylines in the film. The one that deals with Ofelia in the world of the labyrinth and the storyline with Vidal dealing with revolutionaries who live in the mountains.
The brilliant part of the film is that Del Toro juxtaposes Ofelia's world with the real world. For example, in one part of the film Ofelia must encounter a creature who has eyes in his hands, and even though he sits in front of long table of food he still craves innocent children and innocent creatures. Directly before this scene we see Captain Vidal hosting a giant dinner party where he sits at the head of the table. It's symbolism at its finest. Credit also has to go the superb art direction, make up and visual effects that transport the audience into Ofelia's world. The make up on the faun that instructs Ofelia to complete the tasks is unbelievable. The film takes us deep into the darkest part of the human realm and sends us on an unforgettable journey. Javier Naverette's beautiful score plays a huge role in creating the world of Pan's Labyrinth. I honestly believe it would be a crime if he does not win at the Oscars. He is the only composer nominated worthy of the statue.
Ivana Baquero is absolutely stunning in this film as Ofelia. She plays the character beautifully and makes the audience care for her every step of the way. The supporting cast is just as good. Sergi Lopez makes a very convincing and evil Captain Vidal. I think Vidal should be considered as one of the better screen villains in last decade. Credit also should be given to Doug Jones who plays the faun also known as Pan. Jones is one of the better known costume actors in Hollywood and previously worked with Del Toro on Hellboy. He even learned a little Spanish for the role.
The film medium was created specifically for films like this. Pan's Labyrinth is a rare masterpiece that will stand the test of time. Nothing about the film is unoriginal, it stands on its own as one of the most original pieces of filmmaking in recent memory. I know the film isn't playing at every theater, but every effort should be made to go out of your way to see it. A film that will stay with you long after you see it, it truly must be experienced.