101 Greatest Screenplays of the 21st Century (*so far)

“Every story has already been told,” Guillermo del Toro told a crowd at Comic-Con in 2011, “so the only variations I find are the voice of the storyteller and the context in which it’s told.” Inspired by literature, mythology, symbolism, and the dark wilderness that is del Toro’s imagination, Pan’s Labyrinth emerged directly from notebooks the filmmaker spent decades filling with drawings and text. The storyline also integrates visions from del Toro’s dreams, all of which helps explain how the writer-director conjured a blood-soaked parable about a young girl venturing from the harsh realities of Franco’s Spain circa 1944 into a surreal fantasyland where she might be the reincarnation of a princess. With its gruesome imagery, Pan’s Labyrinth is worlds removed from typical fantasy stories featuring children. Realizing his credo of using voice to create specificity, del Toro ventures into mystical thickets of emotion, terror, and wonderment.