Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?

I just finished watching “Pan’s Labyrinth”…

with 5 comments

…or, correctly translated, “The Labyrinth of the Faun.”  And I do not know quite what to do with it now.

I’m not going to attempt a review of this one — to do so requires literary prowess that far surpasses my own, so I’ll point you toward Jeffrey Overstreet’s review and let him walk you through it.

Over the last year, “myth” has taken up more and more space in my head.  Not the grade school variety that teaches of Zeus and Olympus, but myth as Lewis and Tolkien understood it.  Every time I read their thoughts on it, or the writings of those dissecting their thoughts, I feel like I can see it but I cannot entirely grasp it.  And then I find myself regretful of the theology degree I earned, because I feel like it only taps the surface of deeper waters.  It feels like there’s something there that I cannot touch, just a hair out of my reach.

Maybe it has to do with the place I’m at now.  I might come back to this film years from now and feel much differently.  For now, I am confused how such a story, like El Laberinto del fauno, could ever illustrate hope.   It echoes hope, it captures some of its essence.  But it fails, in my mind, to capture the whole picture.

Is the film any good?  I would say yes, but your enjoyment will depend largely on your tastes.  This is a dark film, one that broaches heavy transcendent material — futility, evil, patient courage.  As fairy tales go, this one makes you squirm.  Much like Alice in Wonderland first made me squirm.

Ah, I can taste it, right there, that slow feeling of dread that I ran away from as a child.  I remember hiding behind my father’s chair when it struck me then.  Perhaps, I am not so unlike Ofelia in the film, that she would wish to hide from the terrors of her world in a place so far removed from reality.  I find myself taking trips there in my own mind, much like we’re told J.M. Barrie did in Finding Neverland.  Perhaps my feelings about this movie rest here, in this place: the remembrance of dread, and that pressing urge to escape.

I wish I had not watched it alone.   Not for protection or security, but for debriefing.  See, art is never meant to reach out in solitary experience alone.  Art draws us together.  And this film, an artful work to be sure, deserves time among friends, and a good cup of coffee.


Written by taj

March 24, 2008 at 11:43 pm

Posted in Movies, Questions, stories

5 Responses

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  1. Quite the well written un-review. However, I take umbrage (and if you’ve never taken umbrage, I highly suggest it), with the regretting of your theology degree. You should not regret it. Rather, you should regret the place from whence it came. I mean to say, I love the school, and its obvious that you must have learned a few good things there, as did I. But our alma mater does not prepare one to entertain myth as hope. It does well to prepare us for that which is intended. But, for my money, you have to go for Masters degree work and possibly at a different educational venue. Alas, your theology degree will serve well. It has caused your mind to think and ponder over such things as myth, unfortunately it didn’t help you or encourage to pursue it to its fullest. Why do you think Tolkein needed 3 books to tell the story of the rings, or why Lewis needed, what, seven books to tell us of Narnia?

    Anyway, that’s what I think.

    Ralph Johnson

    March 25, 2008 at 12:22 pm

  2. To the point of not being done alone, there are some forms of art that are better viewed by ones self the first time. Simply if for no other reason then to let your brain go as you look at something without further distraction form external forces. Should one always have someone with them when they view art then they will always have two views in their heads, yours and theirs.
    however should one stand looking into the looking glass long enough by ones self one often finds things that can mean more because it was something that learned on your own.
    Art can be as deep and full of meaning as the deepest ocean, or it can be as dry and distasteful as the desert.
    Example Body World was an amazing display of art, science and mostly of being able to see God’s design from a view that most of us would never get to see in the real world. However this was not an exhibit that i would see on my own. Even though there were parts that I just had to stand there in awww of for time to take in.
    When I was in art school we had a saying “because art was meant to move!” Art moves everyone in a different way, and to be able to find the way that it touches your life and moves you on your own is an amazing thing.


    March 25, 2008 at 1:46 pm

  3. I was never really happy with that last paragraph — I didn’t mean to convey that art must ALWAYS be viewed with others. The solitary experience often yields the very same fruit you mention, James. I just wish I had seen this one with some more people. The discussion afterward would’ve been fun.


    March 25, 2008 at 1:52 pm

  4. The trailer looks interesting so you will have to tell me were you rented it from so I can get it and see it. Then again lol I’m from an art background so i might like it heheeh


    March 25, 2008 at 1:55 pm

  5. I just grabbed it from the library. But its a fairly new movie — you ought to be able to pick it up at Blockbuster.


    March 25, 2008 at 2:45 pm

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