I’ve seen Pan’s Labyrinth, and it is a harrowing, beautiful film. It leaves me with as many questions about the artist as it does about the story, and so, reading Sight and Sound‘s coverage of the film, I’m happy to learn a lot more about Guillermo Del Toro, and what an interesting, conflicted, brave, dedicated visionary he is.

If you can, before Pan’s Labyrinth opens, rent The Devil’s Backbone, which will give you a great example of Del Toro’s uniqueness and power. And then, prepare yourself for a riveting piece of filmmaking. Hellboy showed us what happens when you ask an artist to deliver a blockbuster action movie… you get a movie that’s tearing itself in two between its crowdpleasing obligations and its braver, more artistic impulses. The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth don’t have that kind of conflict. They’re works of art, inspired fantasy stories, and they’re begging for moviegoers to come up with their own interpretations.

(But note: Pan’s Labyrinth is for grownups. This is not Narnia. This is a fairy tale born in the imagination of a man who grew up in the midst of heavy, bloody violence, and it shows.)