Cartooning Like You Mean It

Cartooning, Teaching & Living – by Tom Hart

Pan’s Labyrinth

with 5 comments

Am I the only person who wasn’t moved by Pan’s Labyrinth? Here’s what I recently wrote my Friend Myla:

I was really disappointed by it. I felt it was exactly what I expected
when I first saw the trailers: a simple, simplistic story of a escape
and fantasy and dream by a little girl in a desperate situation. It
was very Spielburgian. Good was good, evil was evil, fantasy was
intense (and awesome for the viewer- of course. That frog!) but it
gave me nothing I didn’t expect, which is why I have never seen Lord
of the Rings, or Narnia or any other recent fantasy movies. They’re
merely spectacle, and not new.

(I have no familial relationship with fascism (my
ancestors are Pennsylvania farmers) – did I need to?)

Two movies I can think of tackle different aspects of that movie do it
much better: horror of children during war: Grave of the Fireflies, a
Japanese animation (and any of the Kurd, Gobadi’s movies…
esepecially TURTLES CAN FLY) and a children’s spirit world as complex
underworld: Spirited Away. Those movies were surprising…

I wasn’t that moved by the girl’s story in a deep way (I mean apart
from the sound design- the surprises, the movie manipulations, etc)
and I didn’t feel dismayed at her death (or that her
death was awful). The story seemed perfectly in keeping with fairy tales,
everything I saw- including the girl’s mistakes, etc. (Parenthetically, I
felt like a lot of the fairy tale stuff could have been more
developed, and thus wind up being more engaging, deep, interesting.
The child – eater scene for instance, was dramatically dull: it’s
basically a chase scene.)

I think I’ve read too many screenwriting books to find much new in the
story. The only reason she goes hunting the frog in her dress is so
she can get in trouble later and you can worry about her during. The
only reason she eats a grape is to do something wrong in the
underworld (was she under a spell? Hungry from going to be without
dinner? Was she normally impulsive? None of that was explored.) The
only reason Mercedes doesn’t kill the Captain is so the Captain can
kill the girl later. Too many of those things got stuck in my craw. I
can’t think of a single moment like that in Spirited Away, depspite it
being fairly simple and straightforward.


Written by hutchowen

January 29, 2007 at 12:32 am

Posted in From Tom

5 Responses

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  1. I think the movie is great – though very different from what I had expected. 🙂 It is brutal but beautiful and the music is just wonderful.


    March 5, 2007 at 4:09 am

  2. I was able to participate in a Q&A with the director after viewing the film in LA. I suspect that learning about “the formula” to screen writing would lead to disappointment with most films, but hearing the director’s process was fascinating. However, I appreciate it when much of a story is left untold. I liked the contradiction in her initial compliance with the fawn versus her family. I liked that much of the little girl’s personality was contained. For me to enjoy a film, there has to be some bridge of my own creation to cross, a way to participate in the story. Is the only reason Mercedes didn’t kill the Captain so that he can kill the little girl later? I dunno. I saw something more about the level of brutality we’re all capable of in that story arc. Anyhoo, thanks for the references to the other films.


    March 11, 2007 at 11:15 pm

  3. The above said movies are all great. Pan’s has something that the other two do not.


    Argument over.


    May 21, 2007 at 9:11 am

  4. indeed- puppetry trumps all!

    Tom Hart

    May 23, 2007 at 8:17 am

  5. check this out…

    this is mine…

    my blog

    July 2, 2009 at 12:45 pm

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