Pan's Labyrinth Facts: 15 Things You Didn't Know
It's Decades season once again at hmv with loads of offers on classic titles availble in our stores around the UK - as well as in our online store - and we're celebrating the finest films from 90 years of cinema with some fact-filled features on the most exciting films from each decade. This week we're heading back to the 2000s to dig up some of the lesser-known facts about Guillermo Del Toro's violent fairytale fantasy, Pan's Labyrinth...
Guillermo Del Toro has directed some fantastic films over the course of his career, but one of the best-loved of these is his surreal 2006 fantasy film Pan's Labyrinth, set during the end of the Spanish Civil War and telling the story of a girl who escapes to a strange land of mythical beasts, where she must complete a set of challenges in order to return home.
The film was nominated for several Oscars, winning three, and won a string of other awards for its director, crew and cast, as well as grossing over $83 million at the box office, but how well do you know Del Toro's film really? We went digging and came up with 15 Pan's Labyrinth facts that you may not know...
1. The film was intended as a companion piece to The Devil's Backbone
Del Toro envisioned Pan's Labyrinth as the second in a planned trilogy of films related to the Spanish Civil War, the first of these being The Devil's Backbone, released five years earlier. A third film, titled 3993, is yet to be made (it was shelved so the director could work on Hellboy II), but in an interview with IGN the director explained the outline of the film's premise: "3993 is a movie that, if I do it, would close the trilogy of Spanish Civil War movies, because it's about a character in 1993 who believes that civil war is a thing of the past. And something from 1939 comes to life and proves that it's not; that it's pretty much alive." Unfortunately there have been no recent updates on the film, but fans remain hopeful that it will one day become a reality.
2. The Faun came from a recurring dream Del Toro had as a child
In a 2006 interview with Charlie Rose, Del Toro revealed that the idea for the Faun character came from a recurring childhood dream, where he would awaken to find the creature in his bedroom, stepping out from behind a grandfather clock. Del Toro also added that he never felt afraid of the creature, just intrigued, and was keen to portray the character in a way that was neither totally benign or completely evil.
3. The director turned down offers to double the production budget if he made the film in English
Despite several lucrative offers from a variety of Hollywood producers, the director repeatedly refused because he wanted the film to be made exactly as he intended. Del Toro is notoriously obsessed with details and didn't want Hollywood producers messing with an idea he'd been working on for many years, insisting that the film was about vision, and not profit.
4. Del Toro gave up his director's salary to finish the film...
It's not as if Del Toro couldn't have used the extra money – the film was running over budget and, not wanting to risk producers intruding on his vision for the film by accepting more cash, he and Alfonso Cuarón, who worked as a producer on the film, both gave up their salaries to find an extra $150,000 to add to the film's production budget.
5. ...and did the translation for the subtitles himself
Another example of Del Toro's hands-on approach to making the film was in translating the subtitles into English, which the director elected to do himself – not because of the budget, but because the director had experienced problems with poor translations in the past and wanted to take care of it himself so that no meaning was lost on English-speaking audiences.
6. The film made Stephen King squirm
At a screening of the film shortly before it went on general release, the director happened to be seated next to renowned horror author Stephen King, who reportedly squirmed in his seat throughout the Pale Man scene. Del Toro described that moment as akin to winning an Oscar, and called it “the best thing that ever happened to me in my life.”
7. Doug Jones learned to speak Spanish for the role, but he needn't have bothered
Doug Jones, who plays both the Pale Man and the Faun in the film, was the only American on set and, as such, the only person who didn't speak Spanish. Del Toro reportedly offered to let him either deliver his lines in English and overdub them later, or learn his lines phonetically, but Jones insisted on learning not only his lines but those of Ofelia too, so he knew where his cue was. Despite his best efforts, however, in the end Del Toro had a Spanish actor overdub his lines anyway, lip-syncing to Jones' dialogue. Top marks for effort though...
8. Bjork wrote a song inspired by the film's lead character, Ofelia
The song 'Pneumonia', featured on Bjork's 2007 album Volta, was inspired by the film's protagonist and was reportedly written while the Icelandic singer was suffering from an actual bout of pneumonia. Holed up at home while she recovered, Bjork used the time to catch up on some films and was so inspired by Del Toro's film that she based the lyrics for the song around Ivana Baquero's character.
9. The ruined town featured at the start of the film has been on the big screen before
The old town of Belchite, near Zaragoza in the Aragon region of Spain, was destroyed during the Spanish Civil War and although a new town has been rebuilt next to the site, the ruins have been left as a monument to the war. Belchite features in the early part of the film, but this isn't the town's first appearance on the big screen; the ruins were also used as one of the locations in Terry Gilliam's 1988 comedy The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
10. The director was so impressed with Ivana Baquero he rewrote the script to accommodate her
In the original draft of Del Toro's screenplay for the film, Ofelia was around eight years old, but after seeing Baqureo, who was 10 at the time of her audition, he realised that he had found his leading lady and rewrote some elements of the script to make the character's age match that of his new leading lady.
11. Del Toro left four years' worth of ideas for the film in the back of a London cab
One of the things that Del Toro is known for is his meticulous planning of all his films, and Pan's Labyrinth was no exception. The director had been carrying around a notebook which contained approximately four years' worth of detailed notes, drawings and dialogue for the film, but nearly lost it all when he accidentally left the notebook in the back of a taxi while on a visit to the UK. Realising his mistake, he reportedly tried to chase after the cab to retrieve it, but it was too late. Fortunately, the driver found the notebook later that evening, as well as some stationary from the hotel where Del Toro was staying. Realising that it was probably important to him, he drove to the hotel and handed it in to reception, who were able to ensure it was handed back to its owner. Del Toro gave him a hefty tip, and has since said that he took the incident as a positive omen for the film.
12. 'Pan' doesn't actually feature in the film at all
In fact, the film was originally titled El Laberinto del Fauno (Labyrinth of the Faun), which was the title used in most territories, the exceptions being North America, France and the UK. Del Toro changed the title for American audiences because he figured that they would not be as familiar with the Faun of Roman mythology as they would with Pan, the Greek god. Although there are similarities, both having goat-like features, they were two distinct entities and the director decided to use the Greek version in the title, even though the Faun in the film is never referred to as Pan, either in the dialogue or the film's credits.
13. Del Toro turned down the chance to direct The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to work on it
The director was in the middle of trying to get Pan's Labyrinth made when he was offered the opportunity to direct a big-screen adaptation of the first book in C.S. Lewis' much-loved fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia, but was so dedicated to his own film that he declined the offer.
14. It won a LOT of awards...
In addition to the three Oscars, Pan's Labyrinth picked up at the Academy Awards that year (for Best Art Direction, Cinematography and Makeup), the film also won three BAFTAs, swept the board in Spain winning nine Ariel Awards and seven Goyas, and was awarded Best Picture at the National Society of Film Critics, not to mention a shedload of other more minor honours.
15. ...and became the highest-grossing Spanish-language film in the U.S.
Pan's Labyrinth was made on a relatively modest budget of $19 million (approximately £14.6 million), but went on to gross over $89 million at the box office, beating the record formerly set by Alfonso Arau's 1992 film Like Water For Chocolate. Del Toro's film held that record until 2013, when its box office take was surpassed by Eugenio Debez's Instructions Not Included.
Get your copy of Pan's Labyrinth on DVD and Blu-ray here in our online store
You can also find the rest of the films on offer in our Decades season here