With “Crimson Peak” arriving in theaters shortly from the ever-imaginative Guillermo del Toro, his other films have been circulating the screens and minds of cinephiles alike. “Hellboy,” “Cronos,” and “Mimic” put del Toro on the map, but it was his 2006 anti-fairy tale “Pan’s Labyrinth” that catapulted the innovator the most critical acclaim. Creating a universe amidst the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War (his second film with this setting, the other being “The Devil’s Backbone”) del Toro explores the real-life and fantasy worlds of young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero).
Ofelia travels with her ailing pregnant mother to live with her new stepfather, the tyrannic Captain Vidal, whose purpose is to destroy rebels and support a Francoist regime. Ofelia is lured by what she believes to be a fairy into the forest, and here she meets a faun, culminating the introduction to the labyrinth, mythical creatures, and del Toro’s lucid dreams.
The Nerdwriter has put together a terrific video essay discussing the parallel narratives in the film, and how del Toro has come a long way from the infamous tales of The Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. He doesn’t follow the fairy tale paradigm by any means, particularly by (SPOILER ALERT) killing off his protagonist at the end of the film and leaving the question of hallucination vs. reality unanswered.
If you are at all a fan of “Pan’s Labyrinth,” del Toro, or the fantasy genre — this is an insightful narrative to check out.