Blogs by Bill Johnson
Notes on Pan's Labyrinth and The Good Shepard
1/20/2007 11:03:31 PM
Notes on some recent films.
Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno)
This is a beautifully shot and composed fairy tale for adults. A young girl travels with her pregnant mother to a villa controlled by her new husband, a captain in Franko's forces fighting to eliminate some hold-outs from the Spanish civil war won by Franko's forces. The captain is cruel and determined that his new wife will provide him a son. The young girl rebels and finds himself conversing with a Faun that gives her three tasks to perform before she can regain her heritage as the daughter of the king of the underworld.
The film travels between the underworld and the conflict between the captain and the local resistance fighters and their supporters. In the end, the girl does what she believes to be right at great cost to herself.
In an interview, the director and author of the script, Guillermo del Toro, spoke about the underworld creatures being symbolic of human types (the rich, for example). Characters in a story (human, alien, monster, symbolic) ring true because they have some purpose in a story's world. Characters in a story fail to ring true when a story's purpose is obscure or muted. In Pan's Labyrinth, the characters are suggestive in an artistic, fantastic manner.
The Good Shepard
This is a thoughtful, slow film about the birth of the CIA and how a life of secrets and duplicity affects the main character played by Matt Damon. Damon plays his character as analytical and emotionally reserved, so the film doesn't gain much emotional traction until he must deal with how his life has affected his wife and now adult son. The plot revolves around who leaked information about the Bay of Pigs invasion and whether a top level Russian defector is who he claims to be.
In the end, Damon's character is left to ponder the cost of his choices.
The structure of the story revolves around several time periods that ultimately gives some answers about Damon's life and answers to some plot questions.
This film would have more appeal to those interested in the birth of the CIA. The story is often more interesting than gripping.
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When Minor Characters Take Over a Story - Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Notes on Knowing, Star Trek, and Sunshine Cleaning - Monday, May 18, 2009
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