When and how did I watch this?
June 5th, 2016, on Amazon Instant Video.
Had I seen this film already?
What did I know about the movie before watching it?
I remember seeing previews and being smitten by some of the imagery in the film. I knew it would be strange and picturesque, but the movie description established that perhaps there would be a deeper meaning.
What do I know about it now?
Set in a moderately obscure historical venue (one I had to research thoroughly to get a proper context), little Ofelia straddles two worlds — a tense and violent reality conducted by her mother’s megalomaniacal and paranoid husband, and a fantasy underworld only Ofelia can see and others perceive as delusional and counterproductive. The tension is established early; Vidal is a nasty dude, filled with deception and intense rage. Early on, we begin to root for Ofelia and her desire to see her mother well while fulfilling her duty as a princess. I felt that both subplots were valuable, but somewhat weakened by lack of development. Perhaps the movie warranted more length; both my wife and I certainly felt there needed to be “more” in the end. The sound and effects are spectacular.
What are some themes in the film?
Imagination and delusion, greed and power, the Spanish revolution, destiny, unconditional love
Did this affect me personally?
Yes. A few scenes are locked in my memory based on tension and imagery alone. The conclusion is quite dramatic.
Why is this ranked #125?
It was nominated for numerous awards and is a universally acclaimed film. Vidal’s character is one of the most vicious and memorable on this list so far. It’s one of the best Spanish/Mexican films ever made.
Did my wife watch/like it?
This is now one of her favorites.
Would I watch it again?
Not sure. It’s pretty rough — I wouldn’t go out of my way.
Would I recommend it to a friend?
Yes — this is an important film in several contexts.
Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?
Yes. It’s safe to say I haven’t seen any film like this. I read that there was a similarity to The Chronicles of Narnia, released the same year, but I don’t see it. Narnia is far weaker in general compared to this masterpiece.