Pan’s Labyrinth — Nominee for 2007 Oscar – Best Foreign Film

Pan’s Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno: 2006)

Foreign-language fantasies, after due diligence at, usually end up having their premiere on my DVD player but a friend was so enthusiastic and persistent about seeing this Oscar-nominated film (Art Direction, Cinematography, Makeup, Foreign Language Film, Music [Score], Original Screenplay) while it was still in the theatres that I was convinced to watch it on the big screen. Mexican writer/director Guillermo del Toro has created a work that is beautifully filmed, with great computer-generated images (CGI), and excellent acting. Surprisingly, however, within moments of the film’s start, I found myself thinking more of Claudio Veliz’s comments on Anglo and Hispanic culture in The New World of the Gothic Fox: Culture and Economy in English and Spanish America.

(see this Google Video for Dr. Veliz’s talk on “The Optional Descent of the English-Speaking World” at the Anglosphere Institute last October.)

In the English-speaking world, fairy tales are more often thought of as children’s stories … filled with drama that appeals to child and parent alike, granted … but not meant to relentlessly catalogue the horrors of life. Pan’s Labyrinth, as far as I can tell, is more an adult fairy tale of a Hispanosphere variety. Redemption, in this world, comes in denying your enemies their deepest needs. Satisfaction comes in another world entirely. As noted, my exposure to the intellectual underpinnings of this approach to life comes from Veliz and his comments about the Caliban/Ariel contrast between Anglo and Hispanic culture. To a lesser extent, my exposure to the realities of Hispanosphere life come from reading from Lawrence Harrison and Hernando De Soto. I may be off-base in seeing the origins of Pan’s Labyrinth in Latin American surrealist literary culture but I don’t think I’m mistaken in seeing it coming from a very different place than Anglosphere fantasies.

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Army of Shadows

Army of Shadows is a movie about the French Resistance, made in France in 1969. and never before released in the United States. It has been getting incredible reviews–“best film of the year”, according to one NYT reviewer–but has a very limited release schedule in this country.

Has anyone seen this? Does it measure up to the reviews?

I may go to the Jan 4 (Thursday) showing at Chincoteague Island, VA (Eastern Shore), if anyone lives around there and would like to join me.