Tuesday, March 6, 2007


Finally got to see a movie some friends thought should have not only been nominated for an Oscar for best picture, but should have won it.

I don’t think so!

Is it beautiful filmmaking? Yes.

Is he a good story teller. I’ll say.

Are the images and fantasy creatures as original as the critics claimed? Not really. Just clever variations on what we’ve seen before.

Was the young girl, the movie centers around, compellingly brilliant in her acting? Absolutely. Was anyone else? Mmmm, maybe a couple of them, a little, but…not really.

Is it obvious this guy is a comic books, or graphic novel, fantasy freak? I mean the director/writer Guillermo del Torro. Man is it ever.

Is that a bad thing? Not for the imagery, or even for the story for that matter, but, for an understanding of what drama can do? Way too comic-book lurid and extreme, including the melodramatic payoff.

It left me pissed off at the attempt to manipulate my feelings through inducing sympathy for the innocent victims, and than victimizing them further as my reward for sitting through the whole thing.

Thanks, but no thanks. Next time I’ll just skim the comic book.


richard lopez said...

not my impression at all at being manipulative. del toro seemslessly weaved the brutality of the captain, beautifully portrayed by sergi lopez, and the brutality of the trials of ofelia.

comic book inspired? yes, but one that has taken it's pulp to the 1st intensity. was looking forward to seeing this film for months, and when i did finally see it, i was deeply moved.

Lally said...

I'm too much of a movie lover to give away the ending, which is why I couldn't be more specific than I was, though i suppose anyone could read into what I said and get it. One of the reasons I was so bugged by this flick was that right from the first frame I was totally taken in by the director's artistry. It's a beautifully shot and beautifully told film, but to what end? My reaction was obviously personal, as was yours, but what I came away from the film feeling like, was an innocent victim. Would a work of art that was aesthetically beauiful but made of human shit that you could only appreciate by sticking your face into it have aesthetic rewards? Maybe, but I'd pass if I knew beforehand what I would end up being put through to dig it.

Lally said...

Okay, after a few more minutes thought, I realize the harshness of my last comment may give the wrong impression and seem too personal an attack on anyone who might dig PAN'S LABYRINTH, so let me try and restate it. Obviously I was moved by the film. That's why I'm so upset. But I refused to be moved the way del Torro seemed to intend for me to be moved. Is there anything an audience can learn from the film besides the fact that the director is great at imagery and story telling, at least in the broader sense? That facists officers could be horrificly sadistic but also heroicly stoic? Yes the actor played the part of the cruel captain well, but it was still a two dimensional comic book character. There seemed to be an attempt to make him more human, or three dimensional, but the device (the broken watch of his father and the Freudian, and existential for that matter, undertones to that symbolism etc.) was equally comic book style in its visual interest but dramatic triteness. The failure of the son to live up to his father's heroics, but aha, he actually does in response to his ridiculously comic book wounds, as if an ordinary human's face would have been so comic book visually perfectly cut in a way that creates a (well I'd be giving it away, suffice it to say that the wound is obvious in its symbolism, trite in its comic book appearance and remedy). So, fascists are cruel; innocent people, even children, suffer and die in war and under cruel inhuman regimes; good guys are brave and heroic, if a little dumb about obvious plot points that have to be made, like the lock! Etcetera. The general outline of the story is good story telling, the devices created to move the story forward and resolve it, for me so unsatisfactorily and maniputively, were inconsistent and comic book thin. That probably doesn't make what I said previously any more clear, but I feel like I'm less ranting and more anylitical, at least, doing it. My own illusion perhaps.

The Woman said...

If film of a car crash has great production values, does it make it a piece of art? This was desk-top film making - somebody was getting happy with the special effects on their iMac. Every death & beating in that film was highly sensualized; they teased the audience with anticipation before each violent act, then held your face there so you wouldn't miss a thing. The blood was always dark red, the wounds were mesmerizing. I was bullied and brutalized by it all. If you kill a kid in front of me, you better have a good goddam reason for doing it. What was the message? Some people are intentionally evil to children and adults, like the captain, while some visit cruelty on others unintentionally by making poor choices, like the mother? (The French Constitutional Council has just approved a law that criminalizes the filming or broadcasting of acts of violence by people other than professional journalists - perhaps we can extradite del toro to France.)

Anonymous said...

Well, I would say your passion is enough to save me 14 dollars at the movies..I'll rent.