This is not only the finest fairy tale ever made but one of the greatest films of all time.
Firstly this is a Spanish film and luckily for English speaking viewers the director took it upon himself to translate the film, with english subtitles, thus keeping the dialogue to his vision. The result reads like a dream. It quickly immerses you and no longer do you realize you are watching a foreign film. This film has two worlds. There is the harsh overtone of Spain’s civil war during 1944, melded with the fantasy world seen only through the eyes of the young, eleven year old, protagonist Ofelia. Ofelia arrives at a newly commanded base of operations, in a mill. The leader of the operation is her newly acquainted stepfather, Captain Vidal. A man that is easily among the greatest of film villains. Ofelia never recognizes him as her father, as much as her pregnant mother tries. On the first night a fairy leads Ofelia from her bedroom and to a labyrinth. Here she meets the Faun. His name is said to be so old that only the wind and the trees can pronounce it. He tells her that she is Princess Moanna, daughter of the king of the Underworld. The labyrinth is the last portal that can send Ofelia to the Underworld. But first the Faun must test that her essence is intact. So Ofelia must complete three tasks before the moon is full. The tasks involve choices and the penalties for disobeying the Faun’s instructions. Captain Vidal is always there to compromise Ofelia’s progress, while continuing to battle against a rebel alliance of Spaniards. This fairy tale is far from a children’s story. It goes to dark places, brutal and horrific. It reminds us as adults that once upon a time we too still believed in a world of magic.
I have seen this film countless times now and I still learn new things with each viewing. There are only a few movies I get really excited about, when I find out people haven’t seen them and this is probably at the top of that list. I love being able to share it with people. It’s a special feeling to watch others discover how amazing this film is, usually from my persistence. I love it. I can not recommend it enough. It has a place in my top ten favourite films and if you are ever given the chance, you should check it out too.
4.5/5 – Stars