As the Spanish Civil War draws to a close, 12-year-old Ofelia (Baquero) moves to a woodland farmhouse together with her pregnant mother, Carmen (Gil), and new stepfather, Captain Vidal (Lopez), a sadistic officer in Franco's army. There one day, Ofelia wanders into an old garden labyrinth and meets a magical faun (Jones) who claims she is the rightful heir to a kingdom which she can reclaim if she proves herself worthy. And so begins a mystical, often frightening adventure.
This dark, phantasmagoric fairy tale by the Mexican director of "The Devil's Backbone" combines elements of the Brothers Grimm and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, then mixes in a heady dose of political intrigue. And it's all seen through the eyes of a child whose fantasy life is her sole escape from barbarous reality. Del Toro doesn't stint on gruesome violence, and his fantasy sequences are rather unsettling, too, but it's all in the service of an anti-fascist allegory that will appeal to the wide-eyed child in each of us. (Note: "Labyrinth" deservedly won three Oscars, for Cinematography, Art Direction and Make-Up).