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The winner of three Academy Awards, Guillermo del Toro’s 2006 fantasy horror film Pan’s Labyrinth follows Ofelia, the young stepdaughter of a cruel army officer, as she escapes into an eerie but magical world in the years following the Spanish Civil War in 1944. It is widely considered to be at the top of its genre and thought by many to be Guillermo del Toro’s best work.


Described by del Toro as the product of what he calls “lucid dreaming”, he has called the movie a spiritual sequel to his The Devil’s Backbone (2001). As a child, he said that he would awaken at midnight and a faun would step out from behind the grandfather’s clock. In notebooks in which del Toro scribbles images and story snippets, the narrative for Pan’s Labyrinth took shape over many years. Shot in Central Spain in a Scots Pine forest in the Guadarrama Mountains, the film employs animatronics, inventive make-up design, and computer-generated imagery to create the fantastic world of the story.


For example, in order to portray Fauno/The Pale Man, actor Doug Jones wore 8-inch lifts, ten-pound horns and endured daily 5-hour make-up applications that included remotely operated “flapping ears and blinking eyes”. In a departure from The Devil’s Backbone, del Toro worked painstakingly to create subtitles for translation that would be up to his standards.


On May 27, 2006, Pan’s Labyrinth debuted at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. It rolled out slowly, eventually reaching international audiences by the end of the year. At one point, Pan’s Labyrinth played on as many as 1143 screens in the United States. In his review, The New York Times’ A.O. Scott wrote: “Pan’s Labyrinth is his finest achievement so far and a film that already, seven months after it was first shown at the Cannes Film Festival, has the feel of something permanent."


Like his friend and colleague Alfonso Cuarón, whose astonishing “Children of Men” opened earlier this week, Mr. del Toro is helping to make the boundary separating pop from art, always suspect, seem utterly obsolete.”


By contrast, The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw said: “...I felt the movie was a series of four or five images, like illustrative plates from a Victorian volume, or frames from a graphic novel. There was no overwhelming narrative drive or inner dramatic life to animate them. But what amazing pictures del Toro dreams up.”


The “best-reviewed film of the 2000s decade”, Pan’s Labyrinth received a 98/100 Metacritic rating and a 95% from Rotten Tomatoes. It has had a worldwide gross of $83.9 million. At awards season, the film brought home Oscars for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Makeup. At the BAFTAS, Pan’s Labyrinth won for Best Film Not in the English Language, Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hair. It was named Best Film by the National Society of Film Critics and was honored at the Goya Awards for Best New Actress (Ivana Baquero), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup and Hairstyles, Best Editing, Best Sound, and Best Special Effects. 

There Lived A Princess Who Dreamed Of The Human World

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