Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Movie Recommendation.

Has everyone seen Pan’s Labyrinth? If you haven’t you really should. I didn’t go see it in the theater, can’t quite remember why, but then this weekend I finally rented the DVD and…
It’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in years. Perfect from start to finish. There’s literally nothing I would change, and I used to get paid to write movie reviews. I’m pretty picky.
The reviews of this movie really didn’t do it justice, probably in part because most reviewers were too overwhelmed to write anything coherent. There are so many layers there, myth interwoven with a painfully realistic story about fascism, as well as a story about children and imagination. The visuals are stunning – I especially loved the fairies that look like praying mantises. I also loved the fact that the kid looks and acts like a normal kid, not one of those horrifyingly perky Hollywood robo-children.
About the “this movie isn’t for children” reviews…I’m not sure that I agree with that, actually. It’s definitely not for toddlers, but at 7 or 8 I would have loved this movie. Kids will of course bawl their eyes out at the end, but then lots of movies for kids have that impact. There’s definitely violence, both real and fantasy, and kids may not pick up the political subtext or know what to do with it (although both Mr. Cassandra and I noted that as children both of us would have done so, probably because we grew up in dictatorships).
Also, can we just lay the whole “all male filmmakers hate women” myth to rest? No man who hated women could have possibly made this movie. Both the young female lead and the older character who’s spying for the rebels are portrayed with far too much affection and respect for that. That’s one of the best things about this movie, actually – the main character is a child and she’s not treated with the slightest trace of condescension. None of the characters are.
Having seen the reviews in the American press, and then the actual movie, the thing that jumps out at me the most is how afraid Americans are of death. I don’t mean just in a personal sense, I mean death as an idea, a phenomenon. I don’t think any American filmmaker would have given this movie the ending Del Torro did – they’d have felt compelled to make it happier, to “explain” things. Most of the earth believes in some sort of spirit world that’s separated from the mundane world by the thinnest and most permeable of veils. Americans, and Brits, in fact the entire British Diaspora, are actually in the minority in terms of their insistence on a strict separation between one world and the next. I really do think that an inability to accept mortality is at the heart of that. In many ways I feel incredibly lucky not to have been brought up within that mindset.
Anyway, if you haven’t already see this movie! It’s beautiful, it’s haunting, and it will make you remember what it was like to be a child, before all your perceptions of the world were forcefully blunted. Just don’t be surprised if you get weepy at the end.

6 comments:

Veronica said...

I haven't seen Pan's Labrynth, yet, but I really loved The Devil's Backbone.

Arwen said...

I liked Pan's Labrynth, and would have loved it, but I'm very stressed by pretend violence and it takes me a long time to recover.

Palmer said...

I got confused towards the end. Are you saying that Americans like myself cannot accept mortality and thusly we don't believe in a spirit world?

H said...

you must have seen this on a small screen TV. I really liked the movie but there is some sporadic very brutal violence. The officer literally caves in the face of a villager. If seen on a small screen the details of the villager's nose caving into his face is missed. I looked away and I am pretty jaded. Every thing else you say is absolutely true, but parents with young children need to be careful; the face caving is very graphic. Also there is something about pan speaking in Spanish that is just perfect.

belledame222 said...

also, the monster with the eyes in the palms was seriously fucking disturbing.

hothot said...

Great blog congratulations!come visit our site and see amazing free on line movies www.zigbr.com

my site is the best in the world
Visit the best free vids site on the net