both films are set around the same time, have similar child-age principal characters, mythic creatures (particularly the fauns), and themes of "disobedience and choice." Says del Toro: "This is my version of that universe, not only 'Narnia,' but that universe of children's literature." In fact, del Toro was asked to direct The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe but turned it down for Pan's Labyrinth.
There are even more commonalities than these, though. Pan's Labyrinth takes place during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 while the story of Narnia occurs during the German bombing of London of 1940-1941. In both films the children are sent to strange homes where they feel unwanted (or even endangered). Both films carry religious overtones (those in Narnia having been well covered), and each ends with a frothy message of hope (though the ending of Pan's is a little obtuse, and perched on a heap of ghastly violence).
I'm glad to have seen both, and I'm glad I rented them--I'm not sure I'd be interested in owning either. Pan's Labyrinth is unique, but I can do without the graphic cruelty at the spine of the story, and Narnia is tainted by its blatant--ham-handed, even--Christian allegory.
I also just finished reading Nathanael West: The Art of His Life by Jay Martin.
It's a compelling biography, but only if you're particularly interested in West and his work already. I found a copy online for eleven cents (plus $3.99 shipping), and I've wanted to read it for a while, so I got my chance for cheap.
West was the epitome of the obsessed and frustrated artist. Though he published four critically-acclaimed novels he never met with popular success--mostly because of bad luck, such as publishers going bankrupt. He foresaw cultural shifts, but wrote about them too early, such as A Cool Million's 1934 prediction of fascism that people dismissed, but which became an indisputable reality a few years later.
West was a notoriously terrible driver, and he died behind the wheel--running a stop-sign in southern California on December 22, 1940.
If this biography teaches me anything, it's the usual: you don't have as much time as you think you do, so write/do/say/accomplish what you have to right now.