Yarnageddon

Based on a True Sweater

Mar 23, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

Have you been to see Pan's Labyrinth yet? Please tell me, what did you think?

Zak and I went to see it tonight. I can't remember the last time I saw something so cruel and dark. I do often enjoy dark and violent movies, but after this one we both felt like we'd been physically beaten. While it's true that it was beautiful, we both felt that it was gratuitously brutal.

It's possible that it was just not what either of us needed to see tonight. I was strongly inclined to leave, and I know Zak would have been happy to leave as well, but I really wanted to see it and I knew I would never be able to sit through that first murder again.

There were a few years, in my mid-twenties, when I had a really hard time watching violence in movies. It's possible that I'm going through another such time; I keep thinking I would have enjoyed the movie more at other times in my life. I really would like to hear more opinions about this movie.

21 Comments:

At 6:53 AM, Blogger John said...

OMG, I loved Pan's Labyrinth. I didn't feel the violence was gratuitous. I had the same reaction as you did, though, after I left the film I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.
I couldn't talk about it but I wanted to see it again. I thought the violence was like fairy tale violence, real/not real. Uhm.... like nature, the violence is there in the background, but so is great beauty.

Sorry this sounds almost like a rant.

 
At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Ann said...

I used to love scary movies and thrillers when I was in high school, but I found that I would always end up in some situation where one of the disturbing images from a movie would spontaenously pop into my mind and creep me out. Parking garages, the woods, dark streets. My dreams. I realized that if I stopped putting those images into my brain, they couldn't return to bother me. It's like loading stuff into my hard drive. Once it's there, it's hard to get rid of.

I also started wondering about why I would want to put myself through a scary movie; they say it's because the sense of relief at the end is so delicious. But jeez, it's such a poisonous form of entertainment, you know? Life is so brutal in general, if you read the newspapers, that I try to find entertainment that is beautiful or funny. Better to load up on goodness, don't you think?

One particularly awful genre is the child-in-jeopardy movie. Once you have children, that stuff borders on the pornographic. Really sick to make a movie out of a child's terror.

This sounds all gooey and ooky, but I have found that I sleep a lot better without all that gruesomeness and brutality floating around in my head.

 
At 8:05 AM, Anonymous megan said...

I'm glad to hear this. I've wanted to see Pan's Labyrinth, but just haven't found the time. However, I too seem to be going through a phase recently where I can't handle violence well so perhaps I'll give it a pass.

 
At 9:15 AM, Blogger Brenda said...

Haven't seen it for precisely these reasons. The Chops saw it and loved it, but warned me about the brutality and intensity. I don't know what's happening: the older I get, the more sensitive to suffering, violence and brutality I get. Scenes and the emotions they evoke will linger with me for days, weeks. I couldn't see The Passion of the Christ for the same reason.

I thought we were supposed to get tougher as we got older...

 
At 10:08 AM, Anonymous Rachael said...

I really appreciate you writing this. I'd been torn about seeing it, and now I've made the decision not to. I think I would react the same way, and I don't want to feel that....
xo

 
At 10:15 AM, Blogger kat coyle said...

I haven't seen the movie, but I have to confess that since becoming a mom I am really sensitive to movies with kids and violence.

 
At 10:07 PM, Blogger Nep said...

SPOILER:

I did find it horridly violent, but I think the point was, that this girl found a fantasy world inside her head to escape the violent reality she was forced to live in; and so, as the movie-goer, you too are encouraged, almost forced, to believe in the fantasy in order to mitigate the awfulness on the screen.

I thought it was well worth seeing.

 
At 1:54 PM, Anonymous monica said...

i agree with nep. although it was brutal at times, it was also extremely beautiful. i will watch it many times over.

 
At 3:47 PM, Blogger Lolly said...

I had a very hard time with that first murder scene too, Mandy. It was extremely brutal. I closed my eyes through the whole scene - the neverending scene - but I felt the worst part was the sound. It was one of the most aurally sensitive movies I have seen in a long time. The very beginning with the fairy? that beating wings sound echoed in my head for days.

That being said, I was able to look past the gratuitous violence and realize the beauty of the movie. The story was simple, but the cinematography and design features in the movie were really something special. I am glad I saw it once, but I doubt I could get through that scene again... once was enough.

 
At 11:45 AM, Anonymous ben said...

What Ann said, about loading up on goodness, rings true. There's so much negativity blasted at us all the time that when I have a choice for the media entering my brain the good stuff would be better. Like food. Although I'm not that good at eating the right food either.

Also I will not go see Pan's Labyrinth after reading this, thank you for the warning.

That aside, I did go see "The Host" last night, and it was fantastic! Go see it! It is a little scary (monster eating people) but also quite funny and even dramatic. If media is like food, then this is still potato chips, but very good potato chips.

 
At 6:26 AM, Anonymous Malia said...

I had the exact same reaction to the movie, though I did love it. My friend and I decided it was because we just weren't expecting it. Even though I knew the time period and everything all the trailers were very magical and MirrorMask like (which if you haven't seen you should, better visuals and not as much violence). But I spent a good portion of Pan's Labryinth hidden behind my jacket.

 
At 8:38 PM, Blogger GKan said...

Oh dear, I didn't have a visceral reaction to Pan's Labyrinth at all. Maybe it's because I don't really get frightened by movies with fantasy elements in them, but I get terrified by movies that have stalkers, or murderers, or serial killers...ugh.

I did, however, close my eyes when the girl met that Monster in front of a Feast Table: the monster with eyes in his hands. Oh goodness. I didn't want that image seared in my brain!

you're right...I'm older now, and horror just doesn't seem to do it for me...

 
At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Bel said...

I haven't seen this one, and don't intend to. I used to be quite into horror or violent movies and comix but, like others have commented (and this is gret to read because I actually haven't heard this from other parents before) since having children, this stuff is just too much for me. Even movies that I wouldn't have considered too violent before, like Gladiator for instance, are way too graphic. I literally couldn't watch last time it was on tv. Anyway, you already knew all this about me Mandy, but I am just adding my 2 cents.

 
At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Kate said...

I also struggled with this movie. I wanted to love it, and there were parts that I enjoyed, but I have always been sensitive to violence and this just seemed like too much for me. What sent me over the edge were the two children sitting behind us in the theater. I'm going to guess that they were about 8 and 10 years old. While I don't want to judge their parents, it upset me to know that they were watching such extreme violence at such young ages. Their gasps and crys throughout the movie really made it difficult for me to enjoy. I think it was the combination of their voiced upset in conjunction with the soundrack of the film that really seared some of the images into my memory.

I'm glad I stumbled upon your blog! :)

 
At 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pan's Labyrinth was the best movie of 2006, period. I never see horror movies, slasher films, fantasy or sci-fi. I read plenty of reviews before going and was really on the fence about whether or not to see it. I expected NOT to like it, in fact. But the opposite happened: I loved this film.


The violence was necessary to show the life the protaganist was escaping by slipping into this imaginary world. (And it was historically accurate violence. I know this because my grandfather and father lived under Franco's sadistic regime.) Pan's is an adult fairy tale. It is sophisticated and dark and complex. The lighting, photography and art direction are amazing. Plus, there's a great sweater in this movie!

 
At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Lena said...

I'm so thankful for your blog. I'm a journalist and I've covered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Africa. Nothing I've seen there compares to what I saw on the screen tonight. The violence was beyond gratuitous. It was used to shock, not storytell. I notice a lot of the people who posted here are women. My theory is that the worst of the film is not even the violence...it's the death of the mother in childbirth...our worst fear, perhaps? We've been rooting for the redemption of their relationship all along. Leaving the girl motherless -- and then learning that even Mercedes can't save her -- is just too much to bear. Some underworld ice-queen on a big pedestal at the end just doesn't make up for the constant orphaning and terrorizing of a 10-year-old girl.

 
At 8:19 PM, Anonymous helen said...

Loved the film, have seen it twice so far and will definitely buy it on DVD.

The violence and cruelty in the "real" world contrasts with the fairness and rules of the "imaginary" underworld, where cruelty is balanced with beauty, making us the audience wonder which world is realer and which is more dangerous. But, as if to redeem the human "real" world, we also see the courage of Mercedes and the doctor, the brave desperation of the mother and even the very human need of the father to know his son would learn of him.

I thought this film was filled with wisdom and beauty, definitely the best I have seen in years, and worth watching over and over.

 
At 7:28 AM, Anonymous nishanna said...

I had very similar feelings about the movie. I might have had different expectations going in but i was just so sad leaving the theatre. I was expecting a Mirror Mask type movie, dark for sure but nothing like pan's labrynth. I didn't think of the movie for too long but it stuck with me. Psychologically there was so much going on and all i kept thinking about was how the story could have reflected the writer own loss of innocence, hope and compassion- which is the worst aspect of self to lose. I might watch it again and have mre control ofver it to get a better sense of the movie. I am interested in the underlying message of the movie but i couldne't grab hold of it the first time because i did feel assulted.

(hi, my name is nishanna. i wandered over from Jersey Knitter)

 
At 3:23 AM, Blogger leigh said...

I saw this last night and agree it was gratuitously brutal. Surprisingly it didn't linger with me afterwards, probably because the fairytale aspect gave it the detachment of watching cartoon violence - not real.

This week I also saw 'This is England', which wasn't nearly as violent as I'd expected; but the tension followed me all the way home.

 
At 8:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I finally got to see this movie, I was bearing down for the violence, and there was some, but I wouldn’t say it was gratuitous. For instance, the torture scenes were defiantly dreadful, but somehow understated, left to the imagination.

I agree with your other readers that this film was deeply saddening. Mauricio and I debated about whether or not the alternate, fairy world really existed… though the film communicates a message about believing in magical happenings, everything starts with a story in a book.

This is one of the film’s strengths, the delicate line between something so hopeful – magic and eternal life – and something so bleak – seeking, in death, a refuge from endless suffering; the contrast between the dark world of mankind and the illuminated other world.

Amanda

 
At 10:37 PM, Blogger jodie said...

It has taken me all night to work up to courage to watch this film. I read lots of reviews and opinions hoping to prepare myself for the gore and voilence so many people had mentioned. I am at this moment 20 minutes into the film, and after witnessing the horrific first murder i had to take a break. although everyone is being very generous and not leaving detailed spoilers-i really wish someone had! i am going for round to now with my finger set firmly on fast forward...good luck to me

 

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