Friday, 27 January 2012

Pans labyrinth, a film for the artist

A Film which all aspiring artist need to watch, especially character artists, is Pans Labyrinth.

This 2006 Spanish fantasy film tells a story of a little girl, Ofelia who loves to immerse herself in the world fairy tales. We are led to believe from the opening of the film that she is the princess (or at least the spirit) of the underworld who reached the surface of the world and died shortly after. Her father, the king of the underworld knew she would return one day.

After the fantasy intro we stick to Spain, 1944, during the civil war. Ofelia is then taking into a “safe zone” with her pregnant mothers boyfriend - the general of the Spanish army. This safe zone is actually an army outpost, constantly under attack from the Spanish resistance. Ofelia being the curious girl she is, takes a wonder round the camp and finds a ruined labyrinth. This scene introduces us to one of the brilliant designed characters from the film, The Faun. Taking inspiration from Roman mythology and then using cutting edge CGI to bring it to life. It stands tall on its goat like legs, with its menacing horns twisting round protecting its head. Its desaturated earthy colours blends it into the environment, making him camouflaged which is fitting as the faun is the silent messenger for the king from the underworld, but also reflects the films dark and threatening story.

Ofelia is given task from the faun throughout the film so she can return to the underworld as the princess again.

One of these tasks she has to steal a ceremonial dagger. This task introduce my personal favourite creature, the child-eating Pale Man, who sits silently in front of a large table of bountiful food guarding this dagger. Warned not too, she starts to eat the food, waking the eerie creature up from his slumber. The creature then feels for his eyeballs rolling around on the table, finding them, he then inserts them into his hands (yes hands, thats not a typo). Then he lifts the hands too his face and suddenly opens his palms, revealing an iconic image. He then stands up, showing that hes a towering menacing creature, then proceeds to chase Ofelia, who has a close escape. The way the creature has been designed to have very little facial detail, is frightful. As humans we learn to read peoples faces from an early age to get an idea of their emotions, but when that all gets taken away, especially the eyes, we find it very hard to make a connection with them. And the fact that half of the scene he is silent, sitting at the table with an emotionless expression really adds to the unknown, building a horrible amount of brilliant tension.

The film is all in Spanish with English subtitles, but if you can handle reading while watching I highly recommend you watch this film, if not for the fantasy story then for the amazingly designed creatures.

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