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In praise of sight and sound

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

Pan's Labyrinth, dir. Guillermo del Toro, 2006

I saw this on a restored 35mm print: what a revelation. The depth of colours, the rich density of the forest landscape which is so much a part of del Toro's fantasy dystopian vision for this wonderful fable vividly come to life on 35mm film. It makes one realise the true textural beauty of actual film as opposed to digitised formats we see so much nowadays. When Ofelia descends into her underground world, you can almost smell the earthy fecundity of all that resides there; the humus stench from which the prehistoric peculiarity of the faun and his retinue of insect-like fairies come to life. This is amply mirrored in the dark, brooding warren-like compound above ground where the vile Captain Vidal with his fascist and misogynistic attitudes holds sway with tragic and bloody consequences. The soundscape is one of the most vivid and affecting I've heard; every squelch, every leather sole tread over every stone, twig or cobble can be heard like a sling-shot, increasing the visceral sense of tension and creating that disarming discord between the real and the allegorical.

Mighty and magical.


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