1 – PAN’S LABYRINTH
But, as great as they have been, none could beat Pan’s Labyrinth. An uncontroversial choice perhaps, but there’s simply no denying that Pan’s Labyrinth is one of the best films ever made. Young Ophelia is taken to a fascist compound by her mother to live with her step-father, a brutal captain hunting for rebels in the nearby woods. Her life is becoming a living hell. This changes when a faun in the labyrinth near the compound tells her that she is a long lost princess from a fairy tale land. In order to return, she must prove that she is a princess by completing three tasks, each more dangerous than the last.
It’s impossible to find where to begin with Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s simply flawless in every way. It’s magical and heart-warming. It’s brutal and destressing. It has all of the important lessons about growing up, yet never sacrificing the childish side of us. Every creature will last forever in our memories, from the giant toad and the fairies, to the faun and the pale-man. The music is something that you will hum for days afterwards. I will always remember feeling uplifted when Ophelia is being read to bed by her mother. I will also remember the mangled hands of the captain’s torture victim.
The ending is as perfect as you can get – it is the prime example of bitter-sweet. But it wouldn’t have worked if everything before it wasn’t also perfect. Del Toro is a storyteller of many talents. He will continuously make great films, or even just entertaining and visually gorgeous ones. There is that hope that he doesn’t have a bad film in him. But, it will be near impossible for him to out-do Pan’s Labyrinth. This is the one he will always be remembered for, and there are innumerable reasons why that’s the case. But who knows, I have been wrong before.