Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Criterion Collection - PAN'S LABYRINTH on Blu-ray ""

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Criterion Collection - PAN'S LABYRINTH on Blu-ray

PAN'S LABYRINTH (2006; Guillermo del Toro)
"Innocence has a power evil cannot imagine."
I must admit that while I was certainly aware of Guillermo del Toro and his films before it, PAN'S LABYRINTH was a true "whoa" moment for me (very much in the Ted Theodore Logan sense of the word). I had seen all his films except THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE to that point so I must have stupidly seen him as just a talented studio filmmaker and nothing more. PAN'S LABYRINTH made me reconsider that position in a big way. After seeing it, I even went back to del Toro's other films to re-absorb his genius on display in them. He had suddenly become a figure of Terry Gilliam-esque brilliance to me. I know saw him as the visionary that we all know him as today. Within his mind clearly existed a dark and fantastic endless universe of mournful fairy tales just waiting to be realized for the big screen. Being a heavy consumer of movies as I am can be a tricky thing in that it tends to flatten out all the borderline mediocre films and perhaps causes me to round down to the middle with many of the movies I see in a given year. What's nice though is that when something truly special crops up, it pulls me out of the drab sameness of a lot of films and reminds me how unique and wondrous cinema can be. It's like being served a constant diet of bland crackers and then suddenly being given a remarkable five-course meal. It is overwhelming and intoxicating. It leaves such an impression that the more you dwell on it, the more you realize how amazing those stand out films are. Guillermo del Toro is one of our great directors and one need look no further than PAN'S LABYRINTH to discover this. He continues to do amazing work and I airways look forward to his next movie, but I could be more pleased that he was able to 
realize something like PAN'S (despite many difficulties in doing so). So many filmmakers go through their careers and are never able to achieve the remarkable stories they may have saved up in the recesses of their minds. What's interesting about del Toro is that not only do his vision find influence from other films and filmmakers, but more often from artists and artwork. I feel like one big problem with big budget efforts of the present day is that not enough original thought seems to go into the design of monsters and creatures that we see presented in theaters. This can make a much bigger difference than filmmakers might think in the intended effect that said creatures have in the way of effect on an audience. Guillermo del Toro clearly takes so much time and care in collaborating with the special effects people and technicians on his films that it becomes a much more impactful thing to see the beasts and critters that inhabit his movies. While Guillermo himself is clearly not lacking in a solid sense of humor, it is his tonal balance of tenebrosity and fantasy that truly makes a big difference in the final product he is creating. While Gilliam (another brilliant stylist) employs much more comedy within his universes, del Toro is a bit more somber and yet compassionate. He shows a great deal of interest in the innocence of his core characters and his take on the world in PAN'S, though brutal in parts, is ultimately a hopeful one. He is one of those artists that lovingly crafts his own microcosms, but understands that they will not appeal to everyone. Those that can find their way in and accompany him as he spins his remarkable tales will be ultimately rewarded in miraculous ways.
Special Features:
As Guillermo del Toro himself has obviously been a fan of extra features on DVDs and Blu-rays, it is then no surprise that the discs for his own films are often quite packed with supplements. Having already worked with the Criterion Collection in the past to help put together lovely editions of both CRONOS and THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE, it is delightful to see another great special edition for one of his movies from them. Like Wes Anderson and a few others, he has aligned himself with the company and I hope to see more joint efforts between the two. Though some of the bonus content here has been ported over from the previous Blu-ray, there are additional things added here (including a newly minted transfer) 
that will make this an essential purchase for fans:

-Newly graded 2K digital master, supervised by director Guillermo del Toro, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
-Alternate 7.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
-Audio commentary by Guillermo del Toro from 2007.
-New interview with del Toro by novelist Cornelia Funke about fairy tales, fantasy, and Pan’s Labyrinth (40 mins).
-New interview with actor Doug Jones
-Four 2007 making-of documentaries examining the characters, special effects, themes, and music of the film.
-Interactive director’s notebook.
-Footage of actor Ivana Baquero’s audition for the film.
-Animated comics featuring prequel stories for the film’s menagerie of creatures.
-Programs comparing selected production storyboards and del Toro’s thumbnail sketches with the final film; visual effects work for the Green Fairy; and elements of the film’s score.
-Trailers and TV spots.
-English subtitle translation approved by del Toro.
-PLUS: An essay by film critic Michael Atkinson.

PAN'S LABYRINTH can be purchased on Blu-ray here:
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