Guillermo Del Torro’s 2006 dark fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth is a film set in a fantastical and cruel world. The film takes place in a fascist Spain during the last years of WW2 and follows one young girl’s discovery of a fantasy world lying just under the cruel world she lives in. On her first night in her new home, protagonist Ofelia discovers the existence of fantasy creatures straight out of a fairy tale in a nearby ruin, one of the first which she encounters being a faun that tasks her with a series of trials that, should she pass, prove that she is the princess of the underworld. Soon after, however, we learn the true depths of the world of the film, with the increasingly dangerous nature of the tasks Ofelia must complete as well as a new war between the military and a small resistance reaching a boiling point.
The world of Pan’s Labyrinth is a dreary one, filled with fear and death, contrasting the fantastical creatures and locations we see Ofelia interact with. That aside, whether it be the dark fairy-tale plot of the film, the astounding and haunting visuals reminiscent of Guillermo Del Torro’s other works or the whimsical soundtrack which itself foreshadows the darker events hidden under the film’s children’s-film-esque elements (the former taking becoming far more pronounced early into the film), Pan’s Labyrinth is a film I believe is a must-watch for everyone, but especially for writers who want great examples of world building and genre melding.
Find on Netflix.
Editor: Fernando Silvia