Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” Rules

Two witnesses have told me that Pan’s Labyrinth received the longest standing ovation of any film that played at Cannes when it showed last Saturday night. And now Salon‘s Andrew O’Heir is calling it “hands down the most exciting and original film I’ve seen here, and the one that had me in tears during its final scenes. Mexican director Guillermo del Toro is best known as the director of such fanboy classics as Hellboy, Mimic and Blade 2, which are cool enough in their way. Pan’s Labyrinth is something else again, and something far more powerful and original. Combining a fully convincing fantasy universe (drawn from a lifelong obsession with classic fairy tales) with a completely realistic story about the endgame of the Spanish Civil War, this film features a heart-rending performance from young Ivana Baquero as Ofelia, the teenage stepdaughter of a vicious Fascist officer (Sergi Lopez), who’s fighting a ragtag band of Republican guerrillas in a remote mountainous area. Ofelia’s ailing mother tells her that she’s too old for fairy tales, but the array of friendly and terrifying creatures she meets in the woods don’t seem to agree. If she can face a series of trials against the various monsters and demons of the region, she can prove herself as the King of the Underworld’s long-lost daughter. But neither the giant evil toad nor the eyeless child-eating gargoyle is as frightening as her stepdad, with his spit-shined shoes, his cracked watch and his revolver.”