Mark Kermode has written an excellent feature on Pan’s Labyrinth for the latest issue of Sight and Sound. Frustratingly it doesn’t seem to be on their website yet but an edited version is in today’s Observer.
Set against the backdrop of fascist Spain in 1944, Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark fairy tale that distils his distinctive mix of fact and fantasy, poetry and politics, pain and pleasure. It’s an epic, poetic vision in which the grim realities of war are matched and mirrored by a descent into an underworld populated by fearsomely beautiful monsters – a transformative, life-affirming nightmare which is, for my money, the very best film of the year.
He is not wrong. It is one of the most remarkable films in recent memory – a truly stunning blend of horror, history and magic. Since I saw it last month it has left a strong impression on me and one can only admire how Del Toro juggles commercial projects like Hellboy and Blade 2 with more personal films like The Devil’s Backbone and this. On the surface it may look like a gothic fantasy but it is so much more than that.
I’ll post a longer review nearer the release date, which in the UK is November 24th and December 29th in the US.