I had been looking forward to watching Pan’s Labyrinth for some time, especially due to the frequent comments I have read about it on Pagan blogs and websites. Jason over at The Wild Hunt mentions it on several of his posts, including doing his own review on the film. Peg Aloi devotes a paragraph to it in her “Witch Cinema” article over at The Witches’ Voice. It’s been discussed on a number of Pagan message boards.
So with all the attention lavished on this movie by the Pagan Community, naturally I had to see it for myself. So I put it on the top of my queue list with Netflix, and when it arrived the other day, reserved a night to pop some corn, crash on the sofa, and watch it uninterrupted.
So what did I think?
photo by longplay
Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was a beautifully made film – the cinematography is excellent (as it should be, since the movie won the Academy Award in this category); the acting is quite good, and the special effects are well done. The fantasy creatures, such as Faun (as seen in the poster above) are also well done, which probably explains why the movie also picked up the award for Makeup, since these characters were undoubtedly wearing a lot of it.
Certainly, there are a lot of Pagan overtones in this movie – not merely in the presence of fauns and fairies, but in the whole overall theme of magical realism. It touches on a lot of areas of Paganism…the darker side of Paganism, that is. This is not a movie for Fluff-Bunnies. If your view of The Craft is love and light and crystals and rainbows, this movie is going to smash that illusion into smithereens. Paganism was never intended to be a simple “feel-good” religion – and from that aspect, this movie portrays it well.
And yet…in spite of the fact that this is a well-made film that has gotten rave reviews from both critics and audiences (Pagan and otherwise); despite the fact that the movie can serve as a parable for exploring one’s own spiritual beliefs; regardless that it offers up an excellent opportunity to discuss Pagan theology…
I’m not sure I can say I liked it.
After I finished viewing it, I didn’t feel any strong urge to watch it again. I did feel somewhat unsettled by it – this is not a comfortable film to watch, and it definitely is not a family film…I don’t recommend it for children under twelve, and even for the younger teens I would be a bit cautious – depending on their maturity and ability to understand and handle the darker aspects of life. There are some brutal scenes of torture, death, and inhumanity. But it wasn’t so much these scenes that bothered me, it was simply the feeling of…”what’s the point?” Truthfully, I felt disjointed – as if I was watching two different movies going on at the same time, and trying to figure out what these two worlds had to do with one another.
Okay, granted…maybe it was intended to illustrate the parallel worlds that we as Pagans often must balance – our existence in the mundane versus our journey through the spiritual realm. Intellectually, I do get it…and I can understand this movie’s appeal to Pagan viewers. But emotionally it just didn’t do anything for me…it didn’t stir me up and make me say”WOW” and leave me wanting to watch it over and over again. If I do watch it again it would probably be more from an analytical perspective, in an attempt to define how it portrays the Pagan perspective. Otherwise, I can’t say this is a movie in which I will be running out to buy the DVD any time soon.
What about you? Have you seen this movie? If so, what did you think of it? Feel free to share your thoughts…