Monday, January 08, 2007
Art Boy and I went to see Pan's Labyrinth a few nights ago. I thought I would love it and I hated it. Isn't it awful when that happens? All the critics blathering on about "oh, it's a fairy tale for grownups" should have tipped me off. Things that strike other people as magical tend to get on my nerves.
But with Pan's L., it's not so much that it's irritating as that it just is not a fantasy movie. Sure, it has Otherworldly Scenes with Fanciful Monsters. Those take up approximately 15 minutes of total screen time. The entire rest of the movie is about a little girl being slowly tortured to death in fascist Spain. If the movie had been summarized thusly, I might have been less disappointed, but every critic is going on and on about the cool monsters... they are nice, but instead of getting to watch a movie about them, we have to watch the antics of a tedious fascist captain who, in case you missed it, is The Real Monster. There is no payoff; there is really no story to speak of.
Art Boy and I had an interesting discussion afterward about fantasy. I feel very strongly that any fantasy story has to hold to its own set of rules, and part of the problem with Pan's L., I thought at first, is that the rules are unclear. Art Boy made the valid point that the rules deliberately change as her situation changes. I've since changed my mind about this. The Otherworldly Scenes with Fanciful Monsters are so short and vague as simply to qualify as set pieces between the adult drama that makes up the rest of the movie. Which is, of course, all about Franco. Guillermo, my darling, please stop enabling Spain.
*correct accent mark added to pacify an increasingly demanding readership