Friday, December 29, 2006

Pan's Labyrinth...

Today, after work, I treated myself to a movie. Normally I'm too busy to be able to watch movies, however, I'm still on holiday from classes. I've been wanting to watch Pan's Labyrinth ever since I first saw stills from the movie in an art magazine.

I was not disappointed. First of all, it is beautifully shot. Every scene is rich with an almost painterly light. The visuals are creative and masterfully wrought. The soundtrack is haunting and seductive. And although the story is fairly simple, the acting adds depth and character. Even though the movie is in Spanish, the raw human expression almost makes reading the subtitles unnecessary.

Perhaps the reason why I liked it best was that it wasn't a traditional fairy story - at least not a traditional MODERN fairy tale. A time existed when authors and story-tellers did not shield the youth from the realities of life. As much as the fairy tales embraced concepts of goodness and light, they counter-balanced it with the all too real truth of darkness. In versions of Cinderella, the step-sisters mutilate their feet to force them into the glass slipper.

Bruno Bettleheim wrote The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. In it, he expresses his views on how fairy tales influence and effect the development of a child's psyche and morality. He also writes on how it utterly important to present the darkness in fairy tales and not water them down.

This movie is almost a perfect translation of a fairy tale for adults. I also liked the fact that the realistic parts were matched equally with the magical. In many magical-realism movies, they only allude to the otherworldliness and ignore the richness of fantasy.

This is a worthy film.

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