Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pan's Labyrinth questions fascism

The film Pan’s Labyrinth seems to be more than just a fantastic fairy tale. When focusing on the settings, Spain 1944 during their civil war and Ofelia’s alternate fairy tale reality, it seems as if Guillermo Del Toro is trying to draw some parallels between the two. The “real” setting of Spain is controlled by the facist regime in which the military, led by Ofelia’s stepfather, is dominating everything and everyone around it. The fairy tale is an escape for Ofeila that allows her to be free from the dominating rule of her stepfather, but it too is very dark and mysterious. In Ofelia’s setting, good and evil are clearly distinguished. My thought is that Del Toro is trying to hint that fascist regime is a terrible fairy tale brought to life. In both worlds there is authoritarian rule which controls everything that dominates everything. The general Vidal is the clear representation of evil and fascism. Ofelia is his foil not because she is good and pure, but because she questions her stepfather’s control and is independent minded. She, in a way, is questioning the authority fascism has over Spain, and is finding ways to live without it.


  1. Re: "In Ofelia’s setting, good and evil are clearly distinguished."

    One of the similarities I find between Miyazaki's films in general and Pan's Labyrinth is that characters' good/evil lines are often blurred. When I first saw this movie, I was very uncomfortable with the faun's motivation, especially after Mercedes said almost at the outset, "My mother warned me to be wary of fauns." To my mind, Miyazaki characters like No Face and Haku play straight into that pocket.

  2. As you watch Pan's Labyrinth it becomes clear that the spiritual world that Ofeila retreats to is the creation of a child rejecting the cruel real world. Moving to the camp ruled by her stepfather, Ofeila's life changes drastically. She is controlled by him, which can serve as a representation of the control fascism exerts on its citizens. Ofeila rejects this control and creates a fantastical world for herself in order to disassociate herself from this new world. Her stepfather is the vehicle through which the cruel fascist world is personified. My theory must end here in order to avoid spoilers in the plot, since it draws upon the end of the movie.

  3. I very much agree with the idea of Ofelia representing good and her step-father representing the evil facist state, but I have to agree with Lisa that the lines between good and evil are not clear throughout the film. Although Ofelia can be seen as "good" because is very much against the ideals of her step-father, she too represents part of an evil society by working with those in the "underworld."