only once in a while do you see a film with this level of artistry. pan’s labyrinth is dark, complex, beautiful, universal. the film draws a parallel between the rule-bound simplicity of fairy tales and the brute force and finality of the real world. good is set against evil with the stark contrast of so many ombres chinoises. the film brings to life the horror and violence inherent in most fairy tales (a witch who eats children, a defenseless granny devoured by a wolf, a stepmother hiring an assassin to murder her daughter) in a way that shakes us out of our inurement. elements of a child’s fantasy are intermixed with recognizable reality – the ambiguity of war in the name of ideological certitude, operatic human cruelty, selfless sacrifice, revenge, loneliness, courage. this brew of what is beautiful and vile, innocent and grotesque, noble and bestial, magic and quotidian is unsettling yet irresistible. some of the scenes are shockingly graphic but one is compelled to watch, to be a participant in this perverse fable. the underlying musical theme is a haunting lullaby – again a collision between what’s deceptively comforting and child-like and the vicious adult world. it is a beautiful piece of music composed by javier navarrete – check it out.