I went to see Pan’s Labyrinth a second time last week, and was completely blown away. I nudged it up a notch on my Top 25 of 2006 (breaking the tie with Children of Men). And I’m considering bumping it up another step. It is magnificent.

Anne (who I married partly because she has the most impressive fantasy-lit library I’ve ever seen, and she loves fairy tales more than almost any grownup I know) loved it too. And so did our good friend Wayne Proctor, with whom I’ve discussed the glories of fantasy storytelling since we collaborated on a fantasy novel as college roommates way back in 1992.

It’s becoming one of those films I want to share with those I love.

And it looks like Christian Hamaker, film critic for Crosswalk, is catching the same fever. Check this out:

“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.

Elsewhere, J. Robert Parks admires it as well. But not as much as he admired Del Toro’s previous historical fantasy, The Devil’s Backbone. (His review of that is here.)

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