Movie: Pan's Labyrinth

Hi Folks,
I saw this movie ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ recently on DVD. I thought it was brilliantly made and thoughtful. I believe it has acquired some cult status,
What are your views on the movie overall? And do you think it addresses Catholic issues?
Lookng forward to your responses. Thanks.
God Bless,

I wasn’t Catholic when I saw it, so I wasn’t looking at it from that perspective. I agree with you, it was a lovely movie. :slight_smile:


It looked very interesting, but I can’t stand watching movies/TV with subtitles so I haven’t seen it.

Love the movie, and I still think the “R” rating is/was very unfair and scared away people who might otherwise also like it - should have been PG-13. However, if it is too scary for kids and a lot of adults might find it too childish, “cult film” would be the appropriate term.

Yes, havana, I think you could be right on that. There are definitely some horrific scenes in it which would be totally unsuitable for kids. Also, the director (can’t recall the man’s name offhand) does indeed ladle on the CGI and that, I imagine, may prove a turnoff for a lot of adults.
Misery’s Fence, I saw an interview with the director in which he said that while he didn’t set out to make an implicitly Catholic movie, a friend of his stated that it was indeed a Catholic movie.
This got me thinking: the graveside oration is the movie’s turning point. I suppose it is where our “heroine” uses evil to combat evil. But the circumstances of said usage are so ingrained in the plot that one is left thinking about how to combat evil especially in a time of war when evil appears to hold sway.
Bataar, I sympathise with how you feel viz subtitles. However, you could check to see if there is a dubbed version of the movie available. The standard is very high these days. I’m sure you would find it a rewarding experience.
If you would allow me, here is the graveside oration (said in v/o):
‘Because the paths to the Lord are inscrutable,
Because the essence of His forgiveness
Lies in His Word and in His Mystery;
Because although God sends us the message
It is our job to decipher it;
Because when we open our arms
The earth takes in only a hollow and senseless shell.
Far away now is the soul in it’s Eternal Glory.
Because it is in pain that we find the meaning of life
And the state of Grace that we lose when we are born;
Because god, in His infinite Wisdom,** puts the solution in our hands**;
And because it is only in His physical absence,
That the place He occupies in our souls is reaffirmed.’
It is brilliantly woven into scenes showing the young girl’s “discovery” of a way out of the torment in which she finds herself, the emboldened words literally flagging that moment.
Good movie. Lots of food for thought. Thanks.
God Bless,

Too weird for me. I’d rather watch the original Labyrinth made in the 80’s with David Bowie while pretty lame I found that one much more entertaining.

Hello Sierrah,
I haven’t seen the Jim Henson movie. I suppose they are very different styles of movie.
It would perhaps be too simplistic to say one is “dark” while the other is “bright”.
The “entertaining” realm is even more problematic. Both movies have a young girl as protagonist; both use special F/X; both are strong on narrative.
God Bless,

As much as I like a simple good-guy/bad-guy distinction in movies (star wars) or books (Lord of the Rings) I’m just not comfortable with a maniqueist approach to a historical conflict. I am a Spaniard and so personally know people who were on both sides of the conflict in the civil war, and so I can’t help but get nervous when all the Maquis (who normally functioned as bandits and terrorized local populations stealing food at gunpoint) are good and all the soldiers and falangists are bad (when a good many of them were sincere people who simply wanted to defend their country and their faith from the communist threat.

Other than that, it is an interesting movie, although I think the reflections it gives way to are more psychological in nature than religious.

Hi Alvarillo,
Thank you for your insightful post. As an Irishman, I empathise with how you feel viz historical dimensions in movies. How can we ever definitively state what motivates each of us?
Yes, I’m inclined to agree. The fantasy element (all in the child’s mind) lead us on a psychological journey.
(BTW, I love your country and her people! I spent a brief holiday in Barcelona some years back. And I was roaring on Spain in the World Cup final! Muy bien!)
God Bless, mi amigo,

Hello, I wouldn’t call this a “Catholic movie”. There are some scenes however that may have lent themselves from the experiences of a lapsed Catholic, even one hostile to the Catholic Church. Please read this review posted by a Catholic who’s very concerned about this movie…

The following is my comment to this Catholic Review blogger’s post, which may or may not be published at the link above…

Thank you for allowing me to comment on this movie which I recently saw. One short scene has a priest not shown well, cavorting with the fascists (as mentioned in the delToro interview below). And, I’m not sure about your statement Mr. DiCarlo saying the fantasy movie promotes atheistic humanism, eternal life in a way other than through Jesus. Another movie series praised by Catholics, devout Catholic J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, does the same thing – at the end, Frodo, Bilbo, and the Elves take a boat to a land of eternal life, and nowhere is Jesus shown or implied. Is this atheistic humanism? In this aspect, I don’t see the negativity in a film which is supposed to be a fantasy. The girl giving up her life to save her half-brother, who even was fathered by the evil fascist, was very heroic and righteously biblical. The only visibly Catholic character was the priest shown for a few seconds, but this was 1940’s Spain, where most everyone was Catholic. All of the mercenaries, Mercedes, the Doctor, the Mother & Girl, the Father & Son hunters, all of the heroes were likely Catholic. And sadly, the facists were also Catholic. Not all in the Church have been doing His bidding, we must admit.

BTW, do you know the background of Peter Jackson who directed LOTR? It’s pretty dark, with some very morbid horror “comedy” movies. Have similar negative reviews been done on the LOTR movies?

The link in your review update seems to be broken, with the new one to del Torro’s interview appearing here…

A copy of this portion of his interview does indeed show his hostility to Catholicism. Whether or not delTorro does an injustice to “The Hobbit” remains to be seen I guess…

MG: … All of your previous films have a fairly prevalent and overt use of Catholic imagery, but Pan’s Labyrinth almost completely avoids it, and yet your friend Iñarrítu said this is probably your most Catholic film.

Del Toro: He said that, yes.

MG: Is the omission of visible Catholic detail just a coincidence? Or was the church’s position and sympathies with the Francoists during the civil war something you considered as you planned out the symbolic strategy of the film?

Del Toro: When I was researching the movie The Devil’s Backbone, I found the absolutely horrifying—not only complicity—but participation of the Church in the entire fascist movement in Spain. The words that the priest speaks at the table in Pan’s Labyrinth are taken verbatim from a speech a priest used to give to the Republican prisoners in a fascist concentration camp. He would come to give them communion and he would say before he left, “Remember, my sons, you should confess what you know because God doesn’t care what happens to your bodies; he already saved your souls.” This is taken verbatim from that speech. The Pale Man represents the Church for me, y’know? [He] represents fascism and the Church eating the children when they have a perversely abundant banquet in front of them. There is almost a hunger to eat innocence. A hunger to eat purity. I didn’t want to avoid it, but I did not seek Catholic imagery. Nevertheless, I understand that redemption by blood and the rebirth by sacrifice is a Catholic conceit. So I accept it without any problems because I think that sexuality and religion come from your imprint in an early age. Whatever arouses your spirit or arouses your body at an early age, that’s what is going to arouse it the rest of your life. Everything will be subordinate to that. It’s a personal choice and it’s a personal experience. I don’t shame myself about being a lapsed Catholic and so if that cosmology appears in my movies, I’m fine with it.

I would also say that the movie is not the most Catholic of entertainment. However, I found it to be beautiful and entertaining.

I agree.

Based on what exactly?

Indeed–even when one see’s a priest at the dinner scene with the Falangists one should remember that the “Republicans” did their awful bloody best to wipe out the Catholic clergy and religious from Spain. It was perhaps understandable that some clergy did go overboard (supporting Franco) in reaction.

Wow, in this movie, was it the “Republicans” who were the guys hiding in the hills?

Based on there were things contrary to the faith propagated in it. For example, as someone already pointed out, a priest at a dinner party stated that God has already saved [the soldiers’ souls], what happens to their bodies doesn’t matter–or something to that effect. He also, essentially, has the Church aalmost blindly supporting the Republicans in this movie. There were other factors in the Chruch’s support of the right.
Matter-of-fact…I just came across this, check this out. States the case fairly well I think.

I thought the character designs in this movie were super awesome and quite freaky! I loved all the visuals and the special effects. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I recall the movie leaving me with a bad feeling. Maybe it was the very devilish character. I don’t like seeing the devil portrayed in movies because he’s so much realer than people think. shiver

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