The film “Pan’s Labyrinth” (Spanish: El laberinto del fauno) directed by Guillermo del Torro tells the story of a girl living in two worlds – real and fantastic. The meaning of the film “Pan’s Labyrinth” is that against the backdrop of the gloomy events of Francoist Spain in 1944, reality turns out to be much worse than the most terrible fantasies of a child.
What is the movie about
The film begins with a caption on a dark screen and a voice-over: “Spain, 1944. The Civil War is over. But the armed partisans, hiding in the mountains, are resisting the new fascist regime.” A bloody girl lies on the ground, she breathes irregularly, her eyes grow cloudy. It looks like she only has a few minutes left to live.
And suddenly the action is transferred to a fairy-tale land. The voice-over tells about the underground kingdom where Princess Muana lived, who dreams of getting into the world of people. One day she broke to the surface and immediately forgot who she was and where she came from. Muana did not understand how to live in this world, she was overcome by diseases, and she died. But her father the king knew that the soul of the princess would return in another body. He was ready to wait for her until the end of time.
Several cars are driving along the road, in one of them there is a pregnant woman with a teenage daughter. This is Carmen, the wife of Captain Vidal, with her daughter Ophelia. Having settled in a new place, the girl finds a stone labyrinth and meets a magical creature of a faun in its center.
He reveals that Ophelia is actually Princess Muanna, and during the full moon, she will be able to cross over to the underworld and be reunited with her real parents. But for this she needs to complete several tests.
In parallel, there is a description of the events of the real world. Captain Vidal arranges a dinner for the invited guests, but the girl escapes into the forest. Under the roots of an old fig tree, she finds a giant toad and, after defeating it, completes the task of the faun. She meets Vidal’s housekeeper Mercedes and immediately takes a liking to her. Her mother is constantly in bed, Vidal is indifferent to her. The girl is left to herself, she is lonely and unhappy.
During the second trial, Ophelia infiltrates the magical dungeon and finds the Pale Man there. This is a creepy monster with eyes inserted into the palms of his hands. He sits at the laid table, on which, according to the instructions of the faun, the girl should not touch anything. But she, unable to restrain herself, eats a grape and wakes up the monster. Barely escaping from the Pale Man, Ophelia finds herself in her bedroom. Mission failed.
Meanwhile, Captain Vidal is chasing the guerrillas into the woods. In their parking lot, he finds a pack of antibiotics. It is clear that the locals are helping the rebels. In parallel, it is shown how Mercedes and the doctor collect food and medicine and take it to the forest. The woman there has a brother who is fighting the Nazis. Ofelia guesses it. She asks Mercedes, “Do you help people in the forest?” When she asks if she has told anyone about this, the girl says: “No. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
The faun finds out about Ophelia’s failed mission and gets very angry. He says that she will never return home now. In the forest, partisans undermine the rails and derail the train. While Vidal is sorting out on the spot, they rob his warehouse. Returning, the captain sees that the warehouse door is intact – it was simply opened with a key. But he gave the key only to Mercedes, to no one else. The fascist comes up with the idea of who is helping the partisans.
Having tracked down a group of partisans in the forest, they deliberately leave one of them alive. After terrible torture, they try to bring him to his senses, but they cannot. Vidal calls the doctor, but he, seeing the suffering of the prisoner, simply finishes him off in order to save him from further torment. The captain, in a rage, attacks the doctor, an ampoule with an antibiotic falls out of his bag – the same one that Vidal found in the forest. He shoots the doctor and kills him.
Carmen goes into labor. They are extremely difficult, the woman dies, giving life to the boy. The captain buries his wife and tells Ophelia to leave. He does not intend to raise her, he does not need her. At night, Mercedes is going to run to the partisans in the forest, the girl asks to take her with him. But Vidal has long known that the woman is a spy. He overtakes her, ties her up and closes her in a barn, then to torture her.
Mercedes cuts the ropes with the knife she always hid in the fold of her apron. She then breaks free and injures Vidal by slitting his cheek. The woman runs away into the forest, where partisans save her from being pursued by Vidal’s soldiers. Meanwhile, Ophelia is locked in a room. A faun comes to her and says that he decided to give her a chance. She will be able to return to her magical realm if she completes the last task.
The faun demands that the girl steal her newborn brother and bring him into the labyrinth. As Ophelia takes the baby, partisans attack the camp and wake the captain. Running out into the courtyard, he manages to notice Ophelia near the entrance to the labyrinth. The faun explains that to open the portal, the blood of an innocent must be shed. Ophelia does not give up the child, shouting: “No! My brother will be with me!
And then Vidal runs out. He does not see the faun and does not understand who the girl is talking to. He grabs the baby and shoots Ophelia. Leaving the labyrinth, he finds himself in front of a crowd of partisans. He gives the baby to Mercedes and asks her to tell his son about him. But she says: “He won’t even recognize your name” and shoots Vidal in the head.
At the end of the film, Mercedes and the guerrillas go to the center of the labyrinth and find Ophelia. She is mortally wounded. While Mercedes weeps over her in the real world, in the fantasy world Ophelia is transported to her father’s luxurious castle. She is greeted by a faun, saying that she made the right choice not to let the blood of an innocent baby be shed. The girl is happy, she takes a place on the throne between her parents.
The meaning of the ending of the film “Pan’s Labyrinth” is that everyone can perceive death differently. For some, this is just the end of the earthly path and eternal emptiness, while for others it is a transition to a better world, where there is no place for pain and suffering.
For a sensitive girl living in the midst of the brutality of war, the end of her life went according to the second scenario. Whether it was all real, the director does not specify. Most likely, everyone will have their own answer to this question.
The meaning of the film
Guillermo del Toro himself said in an interview that when creating the film he planned to make all the monsters seen by the girl the incarnation of a Faun. As if he was testing her, testing her courage, honesty, valor. But later, already in the process of preparing for filming, he began to have other associations. An attentive viewer will definitely notice them and see the hidden meaning of the plot.
The main character, the dreamy girl Ophelia, is unhappy at heart. She lost her father, and her mother Carmen, tired of loneliness, completely subordinated herself to the imperious and cruel sadist Vidal.
And the girl invents a fairy-tale world for herself, in which she decides her own destiny. The faun in him is the embodiment of her real father, who guides the true path, protects, sincerely wishes that she passed all the tests and was transferred to a better world forever.
And then Ofelia goes to fight monsters, each of which is her cruel sadistic stepfather. The first of these is a huge toad sitting under the roots of a fig tree. While she feasts, the tree dies. It is easy to draw an analogy between this nasty animal and Captain Vidal. While he arranges feasts, inviting friends, ordinary people are tormented by hunger, receiving one ration card per family per day.
After defeating the toad, Ofelia received a key – exactly the same as the captain, with which he opens a warehouse with food and medicine. It’s hardly just a coincidence. The second monster is the Faceless or Pale Man. Perhaps this is also one of the incarnations of Vidal in the eyes of a girl. After all, the captain himself is also blind. He assesses the situation only on the basis of what his soldiers will convey to him. And so he often punishes the innocent, as in the scene with the hunters whom Vidal shot for nothing.
The Pale Man sits at a huge table with food. An attentive viewer will notice that the dishes are decorated in only two colors – red and orange. If we conduct a detailed analysis of this moment, we can see an analogy with the colors of the flag of Francoist Spain in those years. And the stove burning behind the Pale Man’s back should be connected with the stoves in the crematoria of the concentration camps, where hundreds of thousands of innocent people were burned. The point is that this monster was also the embodiment of Captain Vidal in Ophelia’s eyes.
Only in the third test did she have to face the captain personally, face to face. The girl made her choice not to let her little brother spill her blood. But the tyrant and fascist Vidal did not know about this. He snatched the child from Ofelia’s arms and shot her. Having killed the girl in the real world, he still could not defeat her in her fantasy world. The essence of the film is that sometimes in our life reality and dreams are intertwined so closely that it is not always possible to immediately separate them. But the main thing is to always remain human, act according to your conscience and be yourself.
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- ” Outland “, USA, South Africa, India, 2006. Stuntman Roy ends up in the hospital after a terrible injury. Under the influence of morphine, he has hallucinations, which he generously shares with five-year-old Alexandria. Thanks to Roy, the girl finds herself in a fairy-tale world full of adventures.
- ” Alice in Wonderland “, USA, UK, 2010. Screen version of the world-famous novel by Lewis Carroll about a girl Alice, who got into the fairy-tale country Through the Looking-Glass.