panning the labyrinth

despite all the glowing praise "pan's labyrinth" has been receiving, i must say for me it left something to be desired. yes it was visually stunning and at times so gruesome i could hardly watch. but it was precisely this contradiction, something about the disconnect between the magical half of the story and the extremely brutal half, that left me unsure about it as a whole.
it is not in the sense of symmetry gone awry where my discontent with the film lies. i just don't think it pulls off the fusing of these two disparate elements successfully. though it's entirely possible that this letting the ragged and missed stitches show is intentional to the "message" of the film, i didn't get the feeling that it was. on the one hand the audience is expected to follow a conventional and sometimes clich├ęd fairy tale, and on the other we are immersed in a brutal depiction of reality. the film seemed to be operating under the assumption that these two worlds could be and would be compatible if one willed them to be, no distilling required.
i suppose i disagreed.

( if you read this post before i changed it, let me just say that when i got home from work and reread it, it felt like it needed more finessing of its own. also, i'm not used to publically disagreeing. i never used to do it at all-- in fact i barely had an opinion for many years-- and now that i really do have one, and i really do disagree with many people, it's still difficult for me to deal with the aftermath of my disagreement. soon i begin doubting that my opinion is somehow flawed by blind spots. but rather than back out of my opinion altogether, i work to make my opinion not sound like a finished thing i'm ready to bronze; after all, bronzing an opinion is about as absurd as bronzing a raincloud-- )


Anonymous said...

i thought it was overrated too, though i couldn't articulate why. i just wasn't moved by it. i found myself laughing during the brutal parts, even though i don't think of myself as an uncompassionate person. your post does a good job of explaining it, i think... - geegaw

Julie said...

thanks so much for commenting-- i was beginning to feel like such an old grump.

chris said...

Although I disagree with you, I enjoyed reading your reaction to the film. It's always nice to encounter different points of view. Your observation about what you saw to be an asymmetry to the film was something I had not thought of in those terms: to me the two stories complemented one another nicely. But you have an equally interesting and valid take.

Julie said...


it's nice to be able to disagree and still remain friends. your take on the movie also made me think about my own. how did you do the little pegasus movie in your photo space? it's so wonderful.

chris said...

Yes, yes! Friendly disagreement is a good thing. As you pointed out, in this way we are able to more fully understand our own aesthetic.

The pegasus is actually part of a work by Andrew Cooke and C505. I am merely "borrowing" it.