Pan's Labyrinth

DVD Rating: *****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Read Chris's film review of Pan's Labyrinth
Pan's Labyrinth

DVD extras are curious feasts, often filled with cutting room floor oddities or repetitive extras carved up into such small pieces that fail to satisfy. The double disc special edition of Pan’s Labyrinth, however, is one of the most comprehensive – and consistently interesting – that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing.

Director Guillermo del Toro is an ever-present guide, leading you by the hand through both the excellent commentary and smorgasboard of extras. This has two benefits. One is that the package feels completely rounded out and purposeful, sitting together as a neat whole – rather like the film itself. Additionally, del Torro’s constant presence means that he knows what he has said elsewhere on the disc, both on the commentary and through the extras, meaning that he never repeats himself.

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During the commentary, he occasionally says: “I’ll talk about aspect ‘x’ later on” or “you can hear more about ‘y’ in the extras.” And he makes good on his promises.

Since del Toro is omnipresent on the disc it is a huge relief that he is so entertaining. He never pauses throughout his commentary track, pointing out choices of colour palette, the use of wipes from one scene to another and where we should look for a repeated piece of imagery. While he does get technical, he never becomes incomprehensible and not only explains how they created the fire scenes without any fire but also finds time to share his hypothesis on “why cows are evil”.

The commentary track is the central gem in this particular package and is perfectly complemented by the additional material.

The video prologue by the man himself is brief but excellent, although – small gripe – goodness knows why they put it on the second disc rather than the first.

A Guardian interview at the National Film Theatre with film critic Mark Kermode suffers slightly from poor sound with heaps of echo and a lady in the front row desperately needs a cough sweet – but in every other respect it is excellent. Kermode is an intelligent interviewer, asking searching questions as opposed to the normal ‘making of’ dross frequently slammed onto discs to bulk them out. (Whisper it, but isn’t it about time that Jonathan Ross, lovely though he is, was moved on from Film whatevertheyearis in favour of someone like this?)

Del Toro talks about his childhood – “we spend 30 years recuperating from the first 10”; his lapsed Catholicism – “I feel guilty even when I am sleeping”; his experiences on Mimic – “It’s like vulture leftovers” and a raft of other things I don’t want to tell you about in case it spoils the fun. He is remarkably candid throughout, which makes for great entertainment.

The rest of the extras concern themselves with the minutae of the directorial and editing process. All are uniformly good. In the 15-minute The Power Of Myth, de Toro talks about the central themes of the film including choice, rites of passage and the rules of magic.

The 30-minute El Fauno Y Las Hadas (The Faun And The Fairies) is another exceptionally well put together extra concerning the special effects. It features del Toro discussing the ‘look’ of the faun and the pale man, as well as interviews with the designers and Doug Jones – the actor who plays both the faun and the pale man. All the while del Toro gives more hints on what to look for in a repeat viewing of the film (“count the threes”). In addition to seeing where blue screen has been used here, there is an additional extra VFX Plate Compare: Guillermo de Toro And The Green Fairy, which shows the director leading Ivana Baquero (who plays Ofelia) along with a fairy on a stick and how it was later overlayed digitally.

The Colour And The Shape, is a four-minute romp through the colour palettes del Toro selected and why, which sits well with the Director’s Notebook extra, in which he shows books, dating back to 1993, filled with initial ideas for the film and how they grew into the finished product.

Del Toro is even on hand to tell us how they chose the signature theme lullaby, in the three minute The Melody Echoes The Fairytale. What emerges is that this is a man who thinks an awful lot about his films before he even gets to the point of shooting. What also emerges, is the urge to invite him to your house for dinner, since it is clear he would be an entertaining guest.

Finally the disc contains various galleries. DVD Comic Sketches, The Pale, The Fairies, The Giant Toad and The Pan, is a serious of inspirational images, such a Red Riding Hood and Alice In Wonderland, alongside sketches of characters in the film. Mercedes’ Lullaby, meanwhile, manages to be both a picture and a musical gallery. Various versions of the tune are played over a sequence of stills. Lastly comes the poster gallery and trailer – which, amazingly, doesn’t spoil the plot.

Comprehensive and looking backward (to Devil’s Backbone and Mimic) and forward (to the tantalising prospect of Hellboy 2), this is a must-have – a perfect guide to the labyrinth.

Reviewed on: 12 Mar 2007
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Pan's Labyrinth packshot
In the midst of the Spanish Civil War, a lonely girl encounters a mysterious faun.
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Product Code: OPTD0756

Region: 2

Ratio: 1:1.85 theatrical widescreen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Disc One: Audio commentary with director Guillermo del Toro; trailers for other releases. Disc Two: Mark Kermode interview with Guillermo del Toro at NFT; The Power Of The Myth featurette; DVD Comics: The Pale, The Fairies, The Giant Toad featurette; El Fauno Y Las Hadas featurette; The Colour And The Shape featurette; Director's Notebook: Video Prologue, Lost Character El Hombre de Madrea, Torturing Of The Maquis: Prosthetic Make Up, Phases Of The Moon, Iconography: Echo...Echo..., The Underground Kingdom: Miniature Construction, The Mill: Set Design; Storyboard Video Prologue by Guillermo del Toro; Storyboard/thumnail compares: Ofelia Enters The Labyrinth, Ofelia, The Fig Tree & Giant Toad, Death Of The Doctor, Ofelia's Death, DDT Creature Design, Production Design, The Melody Echoes The Fairytale, VFX Plate compare: GDT and the Green Fairy, Production Scrapbook

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