Re: Pan's Labyrinth

I wish Teague recorded our mic checks sometimes.  Before Aliens I think my mic check was me rapping Pete Rock and CL Smooths, "They Reminisce Over You," and then Trey followed up with "Rappers Delight."

Eddie Doty

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

Dude. You could have sold tickets to that.

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

I do save the intros sometimes. I have more lying around, but one that's online is for Apollo 13 and it's kind of fucked up.

Bam.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

Malak wrote:

Look, I never thought that Pan's was a fairytale. I always took it for a a secret history - that the fawn & co are real, and those real creatures and their past interactions with man are the origin of similarly-themed fairytales.

I like that idea quite a lot. However, it's purely your eisegesis of the film, as there is almost nothing in the film to indicate this and interpreting things this way doesn't mend the central problem that the film is two hours long and tells two unrelated stories with nothing worthwhile to say.

Had your reading of the film actually been the film, I think it could have been fucking awesome. A fascist monster coming out to the countryside and running afoul of actual monsters in league with his abused stepdaughter? Well, I just gave myself chills.

But alas.

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

Alright, I remembered the issue I had with the commentary.

You guys spend alot of time saying whats wrong with the movie (The fact that there are 2 separate movies, not really a fairy tale, etc etc etc) and what should be fixed (tie the two movies together yadda yadda), but I didn't hear anything in the traditional Dif style of HOW to fix the movie. I kept waiting for you guys to go into how you would fix the movie, like specifically. But instead you just kept saying tie the 2 plots together. So the question is, how would you do it?

How would you change this movie to make it good?

ZangrethorDigital.ca

Re: Pan's Labyrinth

I think Dorkman just did that.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

I don't know how to answer that question other than to repeat the point: tie the two plots together. We don't get into details because the details are almost irrelevant; it's the story's most basic structure that fails.

What it would entail is a significant restructuring of both plots, such that one would not occur the way it does if not for the interference of the other. The things she does in the fantasy world alter the course of events in the real world and vice versa.

One example -- off the top of my head and not necessarily a good idea, just an idea -- instead of the rebels being total morons at every turn, have the little girl break into the storeroom using her magic-chalk. For whatever reason, make it part of a task. So then after the rebels arrive, the Big Bad discovers provisions missing, but the lock wasn't forced. He begins to suspect that the maid is in league with the rebels -- he's right, but if not for the little girl and her fantasy tasks, he would never have had a reason to suspect.

Conversely, maybe a fight with the rebels fucks up a task that she has to complete. Like she's got to pick some golden flower off a specific tree, because down in the labyrinth there's a beast that the flower can put to sleep. But the flower gets shot and she can't use it, so the beast is awake when she sneaks in, and it winds up getting out, and it fucks up some shit in the real world, etc.

Again, I pulled that straight out of my ass and I'm not saying it's the best way to do it, but the point is ANYTHING tying them together would be better than NOTHING. Name something that's more than the nothing in the film. It's better.

The two stories should enter a feedback loop, where A in the fantasy world alters B in the real world. B leads to a C in the real world that would not have happened if A had not intervened, and because C happens, D in the fantasy world doesn't go according to plan, which leads to E which Fs it up. Et cetera. There should be a constant escalation of chaos, with neither "world" behaving the way it's "supposed" to, which comes to a head in a decisive moment where both stories are resolved by a single action.

That's as specific as you can really get considering that the movie's flaw is fundamental. Fix that, and as long as one action leads believably to another (e.g. people don't disregard their own character and let the bad guy live just because the movie would be over otherwise), the movie is probably most of the way to being fixed.

To bring back a metaphor from MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, if a house has a screwed-up foundation, we're not going to get anywhere by discussing the curtains.

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

Hey guys. The other movie you were trying to remember is "The Devil's Backbone."

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

Bam.

Thanksh. Also, welcome to the forum!

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

I think GTD has kind of the same problem in PL that the Coens sometimes have, particularly in Barton Fink. They have said (specifically in regard to BF) that they don't plan symbolism. They just do what feels right. For me, Barton Fink works on a visceral level (whereas PL didn't), but I still found myself frustrated intellectually because the pieces of the storyline do not add up to a single coherent story.

People who love PL must buy GDT's premise that the film is a parable, meaning that this specific story is really applicable generally for everyone and has a moral, which in this case must necessarily be something like "Achieve fulfillment by asserting your independence, but be prepared for the consequences." (He probably also called it a fairy tale; certainly every reviewer did.)

But in PL, we have two worlds: a mundane world at war and a fantastic world missing a princess. Ofelia's primary reality must be the fantastic world. If it weren't, then the story would merely be Ofelia's tragic delusion, which is certainly not GDT's aim. However, the parallels between the events in the two worlds (so well described by Squiggly_P), therefore, are a distraction. The only purpose for narrative parallels is to equate the two things that are acting in parallel, and we have established that the fantastic world is necessarily independent of and equal to the mundane world.

I would really like to find a justification for GDT to create those parallels between the two worlds. Perhaps he merely wants to reinforce the idea that the moral about asserting yourself is applicable in the mundane world. But the problem of the unnecessary parallels are compounded by the strangeness of the application of the moral to the events in the story. Michael is right when he wrote that the tests don't really reinforce the theme of asserting yourself against authority... unless—and I think maybe I can give the film this—these aren't so much tests as lessons; and lessons governed by fantastical logic.

The lesson of the toad is that you can get what you want if you assert yourself and apply the tools you have (that is: you may be small but you are not powerless).

The lesson of the Pale Man is that you are taking a risk if you do not follow the rules of authority (however unreasonable they may be) and you must be prepared for the consequences.

These lessons prepare her for the final confrontation, which really is a test of her princess-hood. She asserts herself against unreasonable authority (which, knee-jerk or not, is sadly more than most adults did when confronted with fascists) and knowingly suffers the consequences. That is an A in the movie's fantastical logic, and she gets to return to the fairy world as a princess.

I'll have to re-watch the film (it's been a couple of years) to see if that analysis holds up, but thinking of it this way may soften my gut-level negative reaction.

Last edited by Zarban (2010-06-10 20:00:55)

Warning: I'm probably rewriting this post as you read it.

Zarban's House of Commentaries

Re: Pan's Labyrinth

Come to think of it, the film begins with the story of the lost princess, right? And it ends with her return. That makes it a frame story. And frames stories are pretty much always the primary reality. What happens inside the frame is a dream, fantasy, flashback, or other alternate reality (parallel reality seems the appropriate way to think of it in PL).

Warning: I'm probably rewriting this post as you read it.

Zarban's House of Commentaries

Re: Pan's Labyrinth

This movie is basically a demo reel for the production designer, a series of images not required to abide by consistent logic. For many people, that seems to be fine, but being the kind of writer I am, I can't not think critically about the situation.

If you're making a fantasy world, even to the degree we're signing up for with every movie, the rules of the world should be clear, or at least internally consistent. There's a tradition in myth and in fairy tales, when you meet a guide and they tell you the rules, they're right. In other movies, it's just called exposition. It's generally the only information we have about the situation, so we have to take it as fact.

Am I giving the movie too much credit if the point was an unreliable guide to the fantasy world? They seemed to imply the faun was lying all along for some reason, which would have been interesting if it had built up to that twist by stages of her figuring that out before making an informed decision at the end.

Just the number of times in the commentary you guys say "they did that so the next thing in the movie could happen" convinces me that nope, this movie was just making up the rules as it went along. In Jan Svankmajer's Alice, that's cool, but PL tried to eat its gritty realism cake at the same time.

"Fantasy" doesn't mean you have total freedom to change the rules as you go along. That's the whole point of magic beans.

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

TimK wrote:

"Fantasy" doesn't mean you have total freedom to change the rules as you go along. That's the whole point of magic beans.

Or, more to the point, you have that total freedom in the first draft, then on the second pass go through and insert the rules that justify what you want to happen smile (Stephen King in On Writing comments that all endings are Du Ex Machina, it's just that the author can go back and put on the mantle the gun he needs in act 3)

I write stories! With words!
http://www.asstr.org/~Invid_Fan/

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

I think the problem with Pan's Labyrinth is that it probably has a moral (and I shall explain it) but it doesn't hang a lantern on it so anyone who doesn't watch the movie and look deep (really deep) into the character's motives won't even scratch the surface of it.

Stay with me, here.

After much thought and a second listening to the commentary (I have a lot of time to listen to stuff at work) I think the moral of Pan's Labyrinth is: Make your own decisions and live (or die, as it were) with the consequences.

Why do I think that? I guess that goes back to the reason that the girl, though she dies, still "passes" the tests and goes on to HappyFantasyLand. To pass the frog test, she had to ruin her dress and get punished. For the pale man test, she doesn't pick the door that the faeries say is the right one. She "passes" the test, but  makes the stupid move of eating the grapes and almost pays with her life for it. To pass the final test, she has to choose whether to kill her brother or not, but (obviously) has to live with the fact that she stole him from SuperFascist. Blam, she's dead, but "ascends" to HappyFantasyLand because in the end she "passed" all the tests.

The same could be said for SuperFascist. He throws the mandrake root in the fire and almost loses the baby he wants so desperately. He shoots the little girl in the end and the rebels kill him for it (and all the other oppressive decisions he's made).

While it's not harped on and we don't get flashbacks of "Ah-ha! She made the right decisions and that's why she gets to go to HappyFantasyLand!" that's the throughline that I see through the film.

That's my rationalization and I'm sticking to it. *nod*

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

So I found this rather interesting article in some random perusal of the interwebs and thought it might interest some of you on here, if not as a legitimate point-of-view, then hell I'm sure it's good for a laugh of two.

I don't know nearly enough about Spanish political history to know how much of what he's saying is bullshit, but if anyone has that kind of knowledge I'm sure this should be interesting.

http://www.traditioninaction.org/movies … ryinth.htm

Also I have something for Teague.

PunBB bbcode test

Enjoy.

ZangrethorDigital.ca

Re: Pan's Labyrinth

*smiles, gazes into monitor for days, eventually dies of dehydration*

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

Interesting... just seen the movie and I thought it was pretty clearly a story about a girl trying to cope with reality by creating a fantasy world.

My first clue that she was crazy and that the faun etc weren't actually real was that the mandrake required 2 drops - precisely the same as the substance the doctor gives to her mother. Her imagination creates a medicine that mimics a real medicine that she overhears.

That she has to be alone to read the book, that she's virtually always in bed or 'just woken' when visited by the faun or his fairy friends (and always in a nighty), that her goal is to return to a place where she can be with her real father, that her mother in the underworld looks like her real recently dead mother, that the knife doesn't exist unless she's seeing it, and that the mandrake only moves in her POV of it burning all solidify the fact that what we are seeing is her delusion.

Further, it isn't until Mercedes said she doesn't trust fauns that the faun character becomes darker, more deceitful and less kind.

The framing device is interesting and arguably confusing, but it's still very much Ofelia telling a story to herself as she's dying. Another coping mechanism.

I haven't listened to the commentary yet but from the comments I think I agree with the gist- it's unfortunate that the film is so schizophrenic and doesn't know what story to tell. It just gives too much time to Mercedes and the rebels, without really giving us much reason to care other than making their enemy a total shit.

Had it focused on Ofelia and really dealt with the psychology of a child going through grief, anger, jealousy, isolation and fear, it might have been a sharper, more poignant story. Instead, the backdrop too often takes over.


Edited to add: So yeah, it's not a fairy tale. It's Fight Club. I am Jack's mind being blown...

Last edited by redxavier (2010-10-02 20:11:30)

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere. - Carl Sagan

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

Just finished watching the movie for the first time and my initial reaction is that I kind of love this film, and now I just started the commentary and you guys hate it? Hmm.

I see the Captain's motivation as he's a narcissist/psychopath, and that's all I needed to really "know" (although that's how I read his character; it's not mentioned), but people with consciouses don't do what he did, and he mentioned pride as a weakness.

And I didn't really care that it didn't follow the rules of a fairy tale, is it wrong to break the rules sometimes?

Edit: Because kids never disobey what they're told to do tongue

Goddammit, you guys were condescending assholes in this one.

Last edited by Mr. Pointy (2011-08-05 05:38:34)

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

I hope that's not the case, I'll revisit it tomorrow.

Teague Chrystie

I have a tendency to fix your typos.

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

We probably were, this was a year ago and we're pretty much only just coming out of that phase in our negative commentaries. (Or I am, anyway; I might have lagged behind everyone else.)

Here's the less assholish (I hope, anyway) way to put it. As we most recently articulated in the LOST WORLD commentary (which if you weren't in the chat for the recording session you won't have heard yet), one of if not the primary thing that distinguishes a well-told story from a poor one is that, at the end, you can say, "Okay, I see why you told me that." The filmmakers had some idea they wanted to express, some perspective on the human experience they wanted to lay out there and say "here's how I see it," and they succeeded in doing so. You may or may not agree with what the filmmakers have to say, but at least you get it.

I don't understand what GDT was trying to say here, and the most popular answer I get when I say that -- something about imagination being an escape from harsh reality -- isn't supported by what I would consider an honest reading of the film. It's okay to break the rules but it should be for a reason, and I can't discern what that reason is. It's all style and no substance -- and the style, admittedly, is striking. If I watched this film without subtitles I'd probably be mesmerized. But with them on, knowing what's being said, it rings vapid and hollow to me.

So when people praised it to the rafters for being deeply philosophical and a modern fairy tale, I got shitty about it, because I don't think it is and to say so is, in my view, an insult to the transformative and instructive power of true fairy tales.

It's like if wizards were real, you've gone on adventures with them, and then many years later, after they've all gone, you hear a new one has come to town and everyone's saying the age of wizards has returned. So you go to see him... and he's an illusionist, not a wizard, performing tricks and sleights and not an ounce of true magic. And he's good, he's really good at doing what he's doing, but he's no wizard. After all the praise and buildup -- and hope, frankly, because you would LOVE to see a second age of wizards begin -- you just want to yell "Are you fucking kidding me? We've rolled with Merlin! Doesn't anyone remember what that was like?" And then you despair, because it starts to seem like no one does.

Had this not been presented -- by its filmmakers and admirers alike -- as a "fairy tale," but just a weird quirky fantasy movie, I probably still wouldn't have much cared for it since I still don't think it tells a proper story, but I probably wouldn't have had the emotional response I did.

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

Dorkman wrote:

It's like if wizards were real, you've gone on adventures with them, and then many years later, after they've all gone, you hear a new one has come to town and everyone's saying the age of wizards has returned. So you go to see him... and he's an illusionist, not a wizard, performing tricks and sleights and not an ounce of true magic. And he's good, he's really good at doing what he's doing, but he's no wizard. After all the praise and buildup -- and hope, frankly, because you would LOVE to see a second age of wizards begin -- you just want to yell "Are you fucking kidding me? We've rolled with Merlin! Doesn't anyone remember what that was like?" And then you despair, because it starts to seem like no one does.

Um, let's make this movie.

Re: Pan's Labyrinth

I had one more thing to add to this thread a while back and didn't want to dredge up the topic just for this:

The only thing in the movie that had perplexed me was the story Ofelia tells to her unborn brother about the rose that could give eternal life. I couldn't figure out why it was in there, and then it dawned on me. The baby is the rose. I suppose you could look at the rose story as some kind of metaphor for life in general as well. People sought the rose because it gave eternal life, but the thorns gave instant death. But the two are inseparable. You can't have life without death, yeah? So maybe it's like a story about how dumb it is to want eternal life. Like, this Captain guy just wanted his name and memory to go on, yeah? So that's why he wanted the kid, but he obviously got stuck by a thorn instead.

I still don't know what all that crap ends up meaning, but there you go. I wonder if the face-smashing scene was a metaphor for alcoholism or something...

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Re: Pan's Labyrinth

Finally watched this one for the first time last night. Was hoping it'd be one of those movies where I walked away disagreeing with an early DiF episode.

It was not.

sigh Fuckin' Del Toro, man.