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Pan's Labyrinth
Pan's Labyrinth
Actors: Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López, Maribel Verdu, Doug Jones
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense, Military & War
R     2009     1hr 59min

Following a bloody civil war, young Ofelia enters a world of unimaginable cruelty when she moves in with her new stepfather, a tyrannical military officer. Armed with only her imagination, Ofelia discovers a mysterious lab...  more »


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Member Movie Reviews

Brad S. (Snibot) from DALLAS, TX
Reviewed on 1/19/2010...
I had a surprise when I discovered that the movie was in Spanish, but much like "Iron Monkey" this movie delivers. The movie is in Spanish because it is in Spain ... makes sense, and it helps move the story along, it also adds to some dramatic points, when you start to think, maybe this isn't so possible, the realism pulls you back in.

Captain Vidal played by Sergio Lopez is an amazing villain. You know those movies where you sometimes start rooting for the bad guy? This isn't one of them. Pretty much from his first scene, you want this guy to get it. He is the most horrible kind of movie villain, he is the one that is only so possible, and probably was based off a real person (maybe even toned down a little.)

Ofelia played by Ivana Baquero is a magnificent heroine, she is strong, independent, and a little foolish but hey she's a little girl. There is a reason why she won a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Young Actor.

Well written, well acted, well conceived. This picture won an Oscar for Best Art in Direction - the fantasy scenes had a very real feel to it, I was very impressed. Another Oscar for Best Achievement in Cinematography - the whole movie was amazing, all of the scenery felt like location, colors were crisp. Another Oscar for Best Achievement in Makeup ... I'm a guy, I don't notice makeup.

I don't throw out a lot of recommendations this movie is one of them, if you avoid movies because they are subtitled, you are doing yourself a disservice. Many fantastic movies were done in foreign languages, and dub overs loose so much of the original work. I don't find myself agreeing with a whole lot of the Oscar movie wins, but this one was SPOT ON! Amazing and fantastic, watch it.

Movie Reviews

Maine Writer | Maine, USA | 01/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is the way fairy tales used to be -- before they got bleached, pressed, and de-linted by half-wits trying to protect tender ears. Before they got Disney-fied. Sure, there's violence here, some of it shocking, but none of it gratuitous. Could it give a kid nightmares? Maybe. But given today's pablum stories, maybe it's about time.

Pan's Labyrinth takes us directly into the subconscious, and into the storyforms that infuse all of the great myths, fairy tales, and religions. It's a rich and satisfying stew of symbolism, mystery, and redemption. Multilayered and inspiring, it's a film you'll want to see again. It's hard not to gush, but it's been so long since a movie this good has made it into the quasi-mainstream.

What makes Pan's Labyrinth most effective is it's juxtaposition of harsh "reality" and the mysterious world that lives side by side with it. The heroine, a young girl who may carry a magical seed of immortality (the soul of god's only child who once ventured into the world of men, suffered, and died long ago), is contacted by shapeshifting fairies who lead her to a faun (much like the mythological Pan) who says she may reclaim her throne and escape the mortal world by performing three tasks. The faun in Pan's Labyrinth is every bit as complex as the mythological Pan, a creature perhaps older than the gods themselves. There's something sly, and perhaps even sexual about this elegant and almost alien faun, as he represents the forces at play inside this sensitive young girl. In fact, like every good fairy tale, all of the strange, wondrous, and chilling creatures represent facets of the subconscious, including baby-eating ghouls, flitting fairies, and gluttonous toads.

Pan's Labyrinth is a commentary on the resiliency and power of the human imagination, and takes us to the place where dreams are spun and the great heroic tale of overcoming (of the self and the world) takes root. That spark of the divine in all of us -- or at least the hope of it -- powers the great story of our lives, and we need tales like this to remind of us of the magic and transformative power of story telling. In the flickering light of the theater, like some great hearth around which we've gathered, Pan's Labyrinth took me back to my childhood, and made me think of so many of the great stories I'd read over the years -- of demonic dogs with saucer-sized eyes, of child-stealing trolls, and evil stepmothers. And, finally, of the champions who venture down into those great cracks in the Earth, where the roots of mythic trees twist and wind and the greatest treasure of all can be found: the noble, heroic, and undying spirit that lies within us."
A Haunting and Beautifully Crafted Film
mothermaven | San Rafael, CA USA | 05/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"First of all, this film is not suitable for children. It is intended to be an adult fairytale with a young girl as its protagonist. Everyone I know who have viewed this film has loved it, including my 75 year old father, who is not really into foreign films or art films.

The is not suitable for children for a few scenes of torture and violence. While difficult to watch, it serves to create a sense of real peril, ugliness, cruelty and evil that propels our protagonist to seek comfort in another world of grotesque beauty. She is a young girl in the midst of a brutal civil war where both sides reside under her roof, and the only reason she is safe is because her mother is pregnant by a fascist general. There is a sense that this safety is precarious and could evaporate quickly due to circumstances beyond her control.

The protagonists other world is sparked by a discovery of an old labyrinth by the old house where the general holds his position and has a doctor see to the pregnant mother's ailing health.

This other world that is created is amazingly done and is beautiful in its grotesquely Gothic way. The original score is perfect for the film with its haunting humming lullaby. The young girl is perfect young heroine that is flawed but lovable. You want her to fulfill her destiny and escape to her throne in a magical place. The rest of the cast are amazing showing the full range of humanity in a time of war from immense cruelty to amazing courage and compassion. The film itself has a great sense of pacing, almost poetic writing, and is able to keep up the feeling of suspense.

The movie is sad, beautiful, cruel, agonizing, and has kept haunting me. The film made me cry and at times took my breath away. It made me feel great to see such a well-made movie in the era of over hyped corporate films. This had the craftsmanship of an expert watchmaker.

The lullaby still lingers in my mind.

Into the labyrinth
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 10/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If anyone wants to know where the dark, creepy fairy tales of old went, here's a hint: Guillermo del Toro is doing a pretty good job with the fairy tales for adults.

"Pan's Labyrinth" ("El Laberinto del Fauno") is a sequel of sorts to "The Devil's Backbone," a magical realism film about the Spanish Civil War. But this movie takes us deeper into a world that is half real, half ominous fairy tale, with a unique and imaginative story and some really excellent acting -- in short, a triumph.

Time and place: 1944, Spain. Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her very pregnant mother travel to meet her new stepfather, the brutal and murderous Captain Vidal (Sergi López). Ofelia loathes her new stepfather, but is transfixed by the eerie forests around them -- and one night she is visited by a fairy, and encounters a giant faun who tells her that she is Princess Moanna of the netherworld, and must return there.

To do so, he tells her that she must do three things, and gives her a strange book. Ofelia menages first task, but is frightened out of her wits by the second task, which involves a hideous monster with eyes in its hands. Even worse, her mother's pregnancy is getting more dangerous. As the guerillas and the fascists clash, Ofelia faces being trapped outside the netherworld forever... and being offered a terrible choice if she wants to get in.

Fairy tales have become cleaned-up and cutesy over time, so that children can read them without nightmares. But del Toro knows that the best fairy tales are the eerie, bizarre ones for adults, that are connected somehow to the real world. That is what makes "Pan's Labyrinth" so brilliantly dark and heartfelt.

Del Toro obviously crafted this with care, directing it in a dreamlike style and brilliant visuals. The eerie atmosphere of Ofelia's wanderings -- the delicate yet menacing faun, the chalk doors, the monuments, and the pasty nightmare with eyes in its palms -- is both a contrast and a parallel with the everyday world, which Ofelia hopes to escape.

At first, it seems like the post-Civil War and fairy tale stories don't mesh, until you see that the "real world" story is Ofelia's motivation to escape from all the fear, pain and sorrow. But Del Toro's biggest triumph is an ending that is beautifully bittersweet, and which turns out to hinge on Ofelia's newborn brother.

But del Toro's biggest triumph is in the instant connection we feel to Ofelia, with her love of the fantastical and her desire to go somewhere "safe." Baquero is absolutely wonderful in this, as a girl who isn't entirely of this world -- in her heart, she belongs somewhere beyond. And López is the ideal villain -- you spend the whole movie wanting to see him gruesomely killed.

Half "Mirrormask" and half gritty war story, "Pan's Labyrinth" is one of the best fantasy stories in years -- dark, passionate and beautifully made. Definitely a great movie."