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Reasons to study this film
This is one of the most celebrated films of Spanish cinema and one that really leaves an impression. If one is studying the Franco period it gives an idea of the sheer cruelty of the regime. It is also pervaded by magical realism which is typical of Spanish and South American culture.
The interest of the film
Set in the period after the end of the Spanish Civil War when Franco's police and troops are rooting out opposition from rebels, the film combines a fantastical fairy tale with the stark reality of the time. A young girl, step daughter of a sinister army captain, whose destiny is to return to her regal position in the underworld comes with her pregnant mother to a mill where she encounters the faun who sets her the task of finding the keys which will enable her to escape her earthly existence. Del Torro in a real tour de force weaves the fantastical story together with the incredibly violent present to produce a stunning film which leaves one emotionally exhausted by the end. This is understandably the most studied Spanish film in the UK and one which is a challenge both to watch and analyse.