Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – Blu-ray review

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Pan’s Labyrinth2006.

Directed by Guillermo del Toro.
With Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones, Ariadna Gil and Álex Angulo.

SYNOPSIS:

Umbrella Entertainment released Guillermo del Toro’s classic Pan’s Labyrinth on Blu-ray in region B, but it worked on all my US players, so I’m guessing this is actually an all-region release. This disc collects most, but not all, of the bonus features from the Criterion editions and others.

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Say “Let’s watch a movie based on a fairy tale” to someone and they’ll probably think of an animated Disney movie, such as White as snow Where Cinderella. But with Pan’s Labyrinth, director Guillermo del Toro created a modern fairy tale rooted in the true origins of fairy tales, which were often darker and more menacing than the Disney-ified versions most of us are used to. (Check out the original “The Little Mermaid” for an example of this.)

Pan’s Labyrinth is set in Spain in 1944, as World War II draws to a close, but a war between fascists controlling the country and guerrilla fighters seeking to liberate it continues. Eleven-year-old Ofelia and her pregnant mother move in with the sadistic Captain Vidal, who is her new stepfather. Vidal is the father of Ofelia’s unborn brother, and he is just as cruel and demanding with his new family as he is when dealing with the guerrilla fighters hiding in the nearby woods.

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One day, Ofelia meets a fairy who shows her a nearby maze, where she meets a faun who gives her three tasks. If Ofelia can complete them, she will prove herself to be the reborn form of Princess Moanna, daughter of the King of the Underworld. Her new magical friends allow her to escape Vidal’s cruelty, but she begins to think that maybe she can’t trust them as much as she wants.

Meanwhile, Vidal begins to mistrust Ofelia and her governess, Mercedes, whose brother is a freedom fighter. His investigation into what is happening at his home sets off a chain of events leading to a bittersweet ending that is a homage to the aforementioned early fairy tales. The first time I watched it, Pan’s Labyrinth haunted me for days, and it was the same when I last watched it. This is easily one of del Toro’s best films.

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This new Blu-ray is a Region B release from Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, but it worked on all of my Region A players, including Sony’s, which are notoriously finicky. So I can assume that this is actually an all-regions version, but I can’t guarantee that it will work on all players worldwide.

Pan’s Labyrinth last appeared on Blu-ray in a 2016 edition of Criterion, which covered most, but not all, of the extras found on previous discs. Nothing new was created for this release, and not all bonus features from previous releases can be found here.

  • 2007 Audio Commentary with del Toro: This guy is great fun to listen to. He’s what I would call an “anti-Kubrick” director, in the sense that while Stanley Kubrick was reclusive and let his films speak for themselves, Guillermo del Toro just gave it all away. This track is a must-listen for fans of the film.
  • Del Toro’s Video Prologue (37 seconds): Legacy from the old DVD, this is a quick introduction to the film.
  • The power of myth (15 minutes): As the title suggests, this bonus feature explores del Toro’s interest in fairy tales and how he was inspired by them when creating Pan’s Labyrinth.
  • El Fauno and Las Hadas (“The Faun and the Fairies”, 31 minutes): This supplement covers the creation of the faun and other fairies seen in the film.
  • color and shape (4 mins): Del Toro talks about the film’s color scheme, which he says served as the code for the film.
  • Storyboards and Thumbnail Comparisons (11.75 minutes): This featurette walks through four of the film’s sequences, with comparisons between del Toro’s original hand-drawn sketches, storyboards and final images.
  • Visual Effects Plate Comparisons (1.5 minutes): A quick look at Ofelia led through the maze by the fairy, with a comparison between del Toro holding a stand-in fairy on a stick and the final version.
  • Director’s notebook (16.25 minutes): This opens with a 36-second introduction by del Toro. The rest of the entries in this section have del Toro showing various aspects of the film, including characters and locations, as shown in notebooks he has created since 1993.
  • The melody echoes the fairy tale (2.75 minutes): Del Toro talks about his desire to create a lullaby that would form the film’s central theme.
  • Mercedes’ Lullaby (2.25 minutes): This shows different versions of the lullaby.

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Also included are four prequel comics that tell stories about the Giant Toad, Fairies, Faun, and Pale Man. Each is presented as a comic book page with animated graphics, sound effects and captions that appear one at a time to tell the story. None of the comics are key to the film, but they do provide a nice insight into the rich world created by del Toro.

Theatrical trailers from the UK and US complete the disc.

Scintillating Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★

Brad Cook

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=embed/playlist

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