Fairy tales are required to have happy endings. It is an unwritten but universal rule. But for the protagonist of the tale, there is always a price to pay, a battle to be won, a villain to be conquered, or even just a phobia to overcome before that happy ending is in sight. What if there was no moral for that tale, no particular life lesson embedded between the lines, no warm fuzzy feeling to be experienced by the audience, would that be a tale worth telling. I think yes.
I watched Pan’s Labyrinth for the fifth time in three years. Rarely does a film come by that leaves me truly spellbound and stupefied at the same time. A transcendent tale with a captivating story that interweaves the realism of life with the escape of the surreal, Layrinth is one of those masterpieces that can only be dreamed up by a visionary like Guilermo Del Toro. The dark blue undertones, the constant rain, the atrocities of fascists, the haunting lullaby tune, the simple and crisp Spanish dialogue, the subdued expressions of the little girl – all mesh beautifully into the somewhat dark, beautiful and often disturbing fairy tale. But to me, what was most enthralling was the ease in which the real and the surreal border on each other and on occasion even control each other.
Maybe that is why its a movie. Because experiencing such surrealism is usually delegated to those bordering on sanity, or the ones whose thoughts are enhanced by a substance, or the lucky few that have found god. I like to think that humans have a unique gift; they can create a world inside the world, not necessarily imaginary, not necessarily real. But one where their version of truth and beauty is unrestricted, one where they are not necessarily daunted by the laws of physics or metaphysics or affected by their physical shortcomings. And I point not just to the artists and free radicals that give form to their abstractions and metaphors, but in fact to the normal man that seldom feels the need for a reprieve from his worldly duties. But its almost ironic that there is always a labyrinth whether above and beneath our feet, even in our fairy tales there is always an elaborate scheme of tests to pass despite the ease of simply skipping to instant gratification. For most people, their dreams and hopes exist in both realms but their paths to the same are almost divergent. The fortunate and brave will see a confluence of paths at some point, but more than often every real-world labyrinth will often stop at a dead-end, at which point the surreal version also starts fading into a memory and gets replaced by another more realistic one.
Maybe the least I can do is appreciate the beauty of our minds’ wanderlust, and the creativity that it spawns. And for reminding me of that, I thank you Guilermo Del Toro.