Pan's Labyrinth was not the film I thought it was going to be. It wasn't a fantasy-fest of amazing costumes, creepy characters and spooky lighting. It was sometimes those things, but it was so much more as well. It wasn't another Labyrinth at all.
Ofelia is a young girl with a dead father, a sick mother and a murderous step father. The world she lives in is a constant struggle of misery and fear. So sinister fairies and a pale, hooved faun don't scare her when they come beckoning - they are portends of another world she longs to escape to.
Unlike Labyrinth, a large proportion of the story takes place in the real world, where the Spanish civil war is barely over and guerillas are hiding in the hills. Only Ofelia knows the secret of what lies in the woods behind the makeshift army base that she is forced to call home. If she can complete the tasks the mysterious faun has given her, she will become a princess, the heir to a hidden kingdom with all the happiness that entails. Or will she?
Pan's Labyrinth is a magical tale of hope and innocence. While everyone around her is preoccupied with death and violence, Ofelia perseveres for something better. The film is dark, brutal, but ultimately uplifting. A real original.