I like Pan's Labyrinth very much. While the magic and fantasy unfold, the film remains anchored in a very real life drama. Del Toro should get the highest of marks for this balancing act. The classic odyssey takes the protagonist far from home only to return after slaying the dragon. The fact is that most odysseys in life take place in the middle of the nightmares we live at home, and, unfortunately, as Del Toro put it, children often die. He should also be commended for the tight editing. The film moves and has no annoying or time stretching plot fringe. The violence, though hard on my stomach and mind, seemed real to the circumstances.
Nevertheless, I prefer the poetic subtlety in Victor Erice’s Spirit of the Beehive. I agree with you that the films are from two very different eras and two different approaches are legitimate. Del Toro uses fantasy to conjure up the horror of a time more than 65 years ago. Erice's film was made during Franco and he needed no monsters to convey the cruelty and pain of war and its aftermath. The wounds were open and still very bloody in 1973, (and Erice has to tell his story through poetry the censors can’t read). The result is that Erice makes a film for adults with poetry, psychology, and childs play. Del Toro makes a children's film with fantasy, brutality and adventure that ends tragically.
As different as they are Del Toro needs to fess up a bit more as to the degree to which his film resembles or was influenced by Beehive!! As someone put it, Labyrinth is "Spirit of the Beehive meets Alice in Wonderland".
There is also the matter of the two child actresses, both of whom I think are outstanding. But Ana Torrent broke the mold and Del Toro took a huge risk in creating a role so close to the one she did in Beehive.
Feb 25 2007 - 2:07pm