Ofelia will be offered one more chance to obey the faun – without questioning him, he insists. The test that follows is reminiscent of God’s test of Abraham at Mt. Moriah and a reminder of what “greater love” (John 15) can achieve. For those who are faithful, rewards await.

Pan’s Labyrinth is a fairy tale full of magic. In some Christian circles, fairies are thought to be part of the occult and any form of magic is viewed as a dark art. Fantasy films, therefore, have had a hard time connecting with some discerning Christians who are on guard against depictions of evil dressed up as good. We know that spiritual counterfeits abound in this world, and God commands us to be on guard against beings who appear to be good, but who disguise darker motives. The Harry Potter series and The Golden Compass books are examples of popular imaginative works that find heavy criticism (but also praise, at least in the case of Harry Potter) from many in the Christian community. Pan’s Labyrinth, with its blend of mythic storytelling and potent Christian symbolism, is sure to stir further controversy among Christians.

So let me end with a personal statement about this movie, which moved me deeply. As someone who has problems with the Harry Potter stories, and who won’t go near The Golden Compass stories based on what I know of them, I can only offer a humbly stated but wildly enthusiastic endorsement of Pan’s Labyrinth. As an original piece of visual and verbal storytelling, it’s a marvel, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Its images are strange and, at times, frightening, but I found its message of strength through sacrifice deeply spiritual and profoundly Christian.

Pan’s Labyrinth is a movie to treasure. They just don’t make ’em like this. If you choose to see it, I think you’ll agree.

AUDIENCE:  Older teens and up

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity:  Lord’s name taken in vain; several subtitled profanities.
  • Violence:  War violence, including gunfire, often at point-blank range, and large explosions; a giant toad vomits up its insides; a man’s lower leg is amputated; an ogre places eyeballs into his palms and chases Ofelia; sadistic torture; bleeding from a troubled pregnancy; a man stitches his own wounds; a man strikes a young girl and threatens her with death; a woman threatens to slit her own throat.
  • Sex/Nudity:  None.
  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Some smoking.  Some scenes of drinking, including a shot of alcohol soaking an open wound.
  • Religion:  Clerics are portrayed as corrupt and uncaring toward the less fortunate; a funeral service includes words about the inscrutable ways of the Lord.
  • Other:  Ofelia’s mother has remarried, but to a cruel man.  Ofelia sings to her mother’s womb and the unborn child is pictured; the child’s father makes it clear that he’s interested only in the child’s welfare and not his wife’s; a mandrake root comes to life, in a shape similar to that of a fetus.