The fairy tales of yore were not sanitized little moral fables, but stories of dread and blood and fire. People have described Pan’s Labyrinth as “a fairytale for grown-ups”, and they are right in more ways than one. Yes, it’s a fairytale in the old-school sense of the word, and it’s aimed at adults, but mainly because it’s about how a child’s sense of fantasy can be used to transcend the cruelty — and moral ambivalence — of the adult world. This is not something a child may understand immediately, but then again, perhaps they will — although I’m guessing only an adult would have the perspective to see it the way it’s intended here.
Labyrinth spans two worlds: a subterranean fantasyland conjured up in the mind of a young girl, Ofelia (an outstanding Ivana Baquero) and the girl’s own world, which happens to be the violent landscape of Franco’s Spain in 1944. Ofelia and her mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil), are sent to live with her stepfather, Captain Vidal (Sergi López), a high-ranking Army officer stationed in a strategically-positioned villa. Rebels in the forest wait to strike, but Ofelia’s mind is not on any of these things. She fears for her mother — pregnant with what is promised to be a brother, and ill enough that there is fear she may not survive the delivery. But she has her giant hoard of books, which she’s lugged with her to the villa, and she has her imagination to keep her mind from being lionized by the ugliness around her.Read more
The plumber Keld has been sweating joints and replacing U-traps for decades, approaching his job in the same unthinking, plodding manner as his 25-year marriage. When his wife Rie (Charlotte Fich) can’t even draw his attention to a cruise brochure, she finally lets it all fall through: She’s moving in with her sister and applying for a divorce. His response to is to sell everything in the apartment, sleep on the floor and brood, and eat out every night at a local Chinese restaurant. The sum total of his knowledge of Chinese food is so meager that he figures the best thing to do is simply start with the first dish on the menu and work his way down. (What happens when he gets to the bottom? he’s asked. Probably start at the top again, what else?)
One night while he’s eating, the pipes burst in the restaurant kitchen, and his workman’s instincts kick in: he runs back there, shuts off the water, surveys the damage, and shakes his head in dismay. “My uncle did the plumbing,” Feng, the owner haplessly admits. “From what I can see,” Keld (Bjarne Henriksen, also of Festen) replies, “your uncle’s no plumber.” “No, he’s just Chinese.” Soon the two of them have set up a black-market deal of sorts — meals for badly-needed plumbing repairs. Read more