This year, for their annual extended film countdown, the inimitable folks at Wonders in the Dark have chosen to focus on films about childhood. I was, as always, quite honored to be extended an invitation to participate, and my first contribution is now live on the site. At #58, it’s one of my very favorite films of the past decade, Guillermo del Toro’s brilliant, bittersweet masterpiece El laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth):
Ofelia’s fantastical journey is woven quite beautifully and skillfully with the grittier real-life plot surrounding Vidal’s attempt to crush the guerrilla resistance, even when the reality of Ofelia’s quest is challenged in the film’s heartbreaking denouement. It’s little wonder that the faun’s fairy story appeals greatly to young Ofelia, who seeks to escape the sorrow of her father’s death, and the nightmare of her mother’s remarriage to the evil Vidal, through a handful of cherished books that function as her portal to another world (literally, as it turns out, when the faun gives her a magical book that reveals the secrets of her designated tasks). On an allegorical level, Ofelia’s attempts to regain what “Princess Moanna” has lost reflects her desires to regain the life she herself lost to the rigors of war; imagination is her salvation, the means to restore a sense of order to her chaotic world.
To read more, head over to Wonders in the Dark now. And continue checking in at the site through October to see if your favorite movies about childhood have made the list!