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PAN'S LABYRINTH – On Sundance Channel April 18

Pan's Labyrinth

PAN’S LABYRINTH, Guillermo del Toro’s award-winning, critically acclaimed 2006 film has been praised across the board ever since its debut. Besides “brilliant” and “imaginative,” it’s been called a “fairytale for grownups,” a qualification del Toro gladly accepts, though he is quick to point out the differences between his fairytale and the other, more common kind. “There are two kinds of fairytales,” he says. “The morality tales, which are like little pamphlets for children on good behavior, and then there are those that are a little more anarchic and intangible.”

There can be no doubt about which category PAN’S LABYRINTH belongs to. Set in Spain in 1944 at the end of both a civil and world war, things are grim from the start. Add to the mix Captain Vidal, Ofelia’s stepfather who has a penchant for torture and one really can’t blame the young girl for running into the forbidden labyrinth. Unlike similarly-themed stories like “Alice in Wonderland” or anything that involves a young child sneaking off into a dream world to escape reality, the labyrinth is anything but safe and happy and bright. This isn’t a story with such a clearly discernible sense of right and wrong or good and evil. Everyone is made up of a mixture of both. As del Toro says, “it’s the anti-morality tale.” There’s no easy-to-follow pamphlet here. “I didn’t want to do a fairytale that tells kids how to be good,” he explains. “I wanted to do a fairytale that told kids how to disobey and how important it is to be disobedient, how important it is to be your own person.” Set to an Oscar-nominated score with stunning visual effects, del Toro’s message is as clear as it is captivating to watch.

PAN’S LABYRINTH premieres on Sundance Channel April 18 at 10pm. See the full schedule.