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About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.
Why’s it called Pan’s Labyrinth? Who even is Pan? I don’t get it!
Yes, well perhaps you should watch a different kind of film – Lost In Translation.
Pan’s Labyrinth is Guillermo del Toro’s dark fantasy fairy tale in which a little girl by the name of Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) is prophesised to be the princess of an alternate underworld. We are told that she, in princess form, escaped the underworld long ago and that her father has been waiting for her spirit to return ever since.
When Ofelia’s mother becomes pregnant with the captain’s child, they are forced to stay with him. The impetus for which, it is later revealed, is that the captain is so obsessed with seeing his son born into a presumptive victorious battleground. The former is a grotesque villainous character who revels in the torture of his enemies and is hell-bent on winning by any means necessary. The film juxtaposes elements of spine-crawling gore, which becomes more and more frequent as well as more and more vivid as the film progresses, with rich fantasy. Indeed, we even long for the scenes in which Ofelia travels to the nearby labyrinth to speak with the faun (who is the ‘Pan’ for those of you who were wondering) and be set on another quest. Whilst the film is somewhat devoid of humour, which perhaps is its major fault, this fantasy does offer us some solace, some escapism from the backdrop of conflict.
And the conflict is everywhere. Not only does it cover the political ground of the world Ofelia is part of, it also extends into familial and even biological matters. Ofelia’s mother, whilst being pregnant, is being almost attacked by her creation. Near the latter part of the film we actually see that Ofelia’s mother has died when giving birth, making nature seem on the side of the villain, the captain.
When Ofelia first enter the labyrinth, she meets the faun, who tells her of her magical history, and sets her on tasks to prove that she has not become fully mortal. On her second task, in a kind of pseudo postlapsarian moment, Ofelia eats the fruit off of the table when told persistently not to. But this does not, as the biblical story would have us falsely presume, lead to the loss of her innocence.
In fact, Ofelia maintains her innocence throughout the entirety. In the end, it is exactly her innocence, and the protection of her little brother’s, which culminates in both her death on earth and her fulfilling of her prophecy.
Pan’s Labyrinth is both a damning indictment of earthly conflict as well as an exultation of our escapism in fantasy; a much-needed film in a time of stark realities.
Image Credits: moviefone.com