From the desk of The Movie Snob
Pan’s Labyrinth (B+). This is a dark and violent movie, but very well-made. The setting is Spain, 1944. The civil war is basically over, but there are still a few Communists at large in the forests and mountains. A cruel Fascist military captain in command of a garrison in a remote area summons his new wife, who is pregnant, to join him. She is a widow, and she brings her young daughter and the movie’s protagonist, Ofelia. Ofelia loves fairy tales and gets caught up in one of her own. A fantastic creature calling himself a faun tells her that she is really a princess from an underground kingdom, and she must perform three heroic tasks in order to rejoin her family below. The movie alternates between Ofelia’s fantasies (or are they real?) and the cruelty and violence of the real world. Not a very cheerful movie, but a compelling one nonetheless. The little girl (Ivana Baquero) who plays Ofelia is exceptional.