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Pan's Labyrinth

Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro may have won the Best Picture Oscar in 2018 for The Shape of Water, but for many, 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth remains his greatest achievement. A beguiling dark fairy-tale set against the backdrop of Civil War-torn Spain, the film is remembered as much for its violent and frightening edge as it is for its fantastical sweeping narrative.

“…a dreamlike descent into a subterranean netherworld”

Ofelia (a wonderful performance by 11-year-old Ivana Baquero) is the daughter of Carmen (Ariadna Gil – heart-breaking), who has recently married the authoritarian Franco supporter Captain Vidal (Sergi López). Venturing out one night, Ofelia comes across an eerie, ancient stone labyrinth, wherein she finds the Faun, a towering, menacing creature who claims to know her.

Packed with incredible creature designs and imagery, the film deservedly picked up the Best Make-Up Oscar, and the practical effects (as well as the double performances by regular del Toro collaborator Doug Jones as the Faun and the terrifying Pale Man) are as impressive as they are monstrous. Drawing inspiration from Victor Erice’s The Spirit of The Beehive, the film connects these monsters with the horrors of war, becoming as much a tale of innocence and childhood loss as it is a fantastical journey.

Truly cinematic (also winning the Best Cinematography and Production Design Oscars), the film is a dreamlike descent into a subterranean netherworld where the humans are as formidable as the monsters.