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El laberinto del fauno (Pan's Labyrinth)

Title: El laberinto del fauno (Pan's Labyrinth)
Released: 2006

Winner of three Academy Awards, Pan's Labyrinth is one of the best Spanish-speaking movies I've ever seen. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, the film takes place during the Franco-era dictatorship in Spain, and is the story of young Ofelia, whose reality alternates between fantasy and reality as she struggles to make sense of her world. After her father dies, Ofelia's mother remarries and the two go to live with Captain Vidal, who is cruelly controlling in his personal life and ruthless in his military post. Ofelia is visited by a Faun, who tells her she is a princess and gives her three tasks to complete in order to join her father, who is the king. Ofelia's quest weaves into the story of rebels, assisted by Vidal's servant Mercedes, who are fighting against fascist troops, led by Capitan Vidal. At the same time, Ofelia's pregnant mother is on bed rest and Ofelia must not only fend for herself, but try to help her mother.

I was skeptical at first about how the fantasy and reality would be combined in the film and whether the use of special effects would look fake and out of place. To my surprise, the transitions are seamless, and it impossible to know, in the end, what is real and what is imagined.