TIFF Cinematheque

Pan's Labyrinth

Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro’s darkly beautiful fairy tale — about a young girl who discovers a magical underworld of both beauty and horror in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War — won three Academy Awards and has been hailed as a modern classic.

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Academy Award–winning Pan's Labyrinth remains a triumph of cinematic wonder. In Francoist Spain, the imaginative young Ofélia (Ivana Baquero) travels reluctantly to the north with her pregnant mother (Ariadna Gil) to live at the command post of her new stepfather, Captain Vidal (Sergi López), a sadistic man hell-bent on ridding the countryside of rebel forces. When Ofélia discovers a magical labyrinth under the ground, she flees into it, seeking refuge from the terrors of the conflict. But the subterranean world turns out to harbour its own kind of threats. Here she encounters all manner of creatures, benevolent and otherwise, including a grotesque faun (Doug Jones) who gives her three dangerous tasks to complete. And so Ofélia undertakes a quest to protect her unborn sibling and claim her crown as princess of this realm.

A grim fairytale worthy of the Brothers, Guillermo del Toro's film haunts like few others. Host to some of his most indelible creature creations — the "Pale Man" has since become an iconic character in movie monster lore — this darkly gorgeous dreamscape grafts the style of the contemporary horror film onto an anti-fascist political allegory.

Pan's Labyrinth is more than an international blockbuster; it elevated del Toro to the company of Peter Jackson and Tim Burton as one of the cinema's leading fabulists. This film can be counted among the decade's most compelling classics, and it will continue to inspire awe in audiences for decades to come.

JESSE WENTE

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