Pan’s Labyrinth Movie Essay - Allegory, Fable and Realism Fused by Director Guillermo Del Toro

Pan’s Labyrinth Movie Essay - Allegory, Fable and Realism Fused by Director Guillermo Del Toro

How does director Guillermo Del Toro fuse allegory, fable and realism to tell a story about the triumph of good over evil in post Civil War Spain? Discuss with reference to cinematic techniques, as well as content.

In the film Pan’s Labyrinth the director Guillermo Del Toro exposes good vs. evil in this film using techniques such as lighting and sound. Dark, sinister lighting is used to portray a character as frightening or evil. Sound creates atmosphere change to a more frightening or happy scene. The setting of this film is in Spain after the Spanish Civil War. The story uses symbolism to entwine two worlds together. Combining the harsh, world of fascist post-war Francoist Spain with the light, happy, and trouble free world of magic and fantasy. The main character Ofelia is a girl who has the choice to go to the trouble-free fairy world, or stay in the real world with her heavily-pregnant mother. She believes that she is Princess Moanna in the fairy tale world. Initially she does not want to leave her mother, Carmen, but when her mother dies giving birth to a child, Ofelia decides that she must leave with the baby to the fairy-tale world. In the desperate times of the post-civil war Ofelia has to complete three tasks before the moon is full, so that she may enter the fairy tale world and escape from the harsh reality of fascist Spain.

The Spanish civil war was devastating to Spain and to the rebels and fascists alike. It lasted from 17th July 1936 to the 1st April 1939. The war was between the fascists and the rebel resistance. The fascists were led by General Francisco Franco, the dictator in power over Spain. The fascists had the support of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, and the rebels had the support of the Soviet Union and republican Mexico. The war ended with the victory of the fascists and the fall of the rebels. In the story Ofelia's step-father is working for the fascist general Francisco Franco and one of the maids, Mercedes, is working for the rebels hiding in the forest. This shows the contrasting personalities and ideas of members within the camp.

The story Pan’s Labyrinth is half fairy tale, and half realistic story. Originally fairy-tales started out as much more gruesome, graphical stories rather than some of the new strand of stories. This is one of those stories. This means that for a nicer, more modernised version of this story 'Disney' would probably put in more talking characters, no violence and Carmen not pregnant. The story is Spanish so the word 'fauno' in rough translation means faun in Spanish because the actual name of the film was 'El laberinto del fauno' so the translation was 'faun's labyrinth'. The word pan is the name of the faun in a story who plays the pipes.

In the film CGI (computer generated images) is used to create some of the creatures such as the mandrake root, the fairies. However the child eating monster was actually played by an actor wearing a costume and a lot of make-up. The CGI help to make it possible show the symbolism between the two worlds and how some of the magical creatures in Ofelia’s world relate to the story being told in the real world. This is done by making realistic looking monsters and creatures.

This story is an allegory. An allegory is a story told by another story. The fairy tales tell the story of the post-war struggle in Spain using some of the challenges symbolism to connect to the events with Mercedes or the doctor or Captain Vidal. For example the child-eating monster represents Captain Vidal. This is shown in two similar scenes, at the end Ofelia is running away from the captain, and during the middle of the film she runs away from the monster. So Ofelia is running away from them both.

The colours of the two worlds play a major part in telling the story, because of the stereotypical images of fear and evil, or
good and warm. For instance the human world is portrayed as dark and sinister with quite dark blues and grey and the fairytale world is shown using dazzling gold and reds to show a very bright, hopeful and trustworthy place. Also the captain’s military squad dressed in quite dark blue so that it promotes fear and darkness however the faun also wears quite dark colours. So you may wonder whether the faun really is someone that Ofelia can trust. On the other end of the scale is the king of the underworld who wears very golden bright costume. The whole film is a flashback except a small portion at the end of the film. You can tell this by at the beginning of the film the blood is running back up Ofelia’s nose and camera goes into her eye, like going into her mind or memory.

During the film there are transitions to change from scene to scene or follow a character. Usually the transitions change from good character’s story, to evil character’s story. Also it helps change from the real world to the fairytale world. For instance it changes when Ofelia enters the tree, to when the captain is in the forest.

In the film there is also a sense of allegory between the film and Spain as a whole and parts of religion. For instance there are the fascists vs the rebels which, in a way, represents WW2 battles between the allies and the fascists. There is also a religious context of self-sacrifice. This is shown with the doctor, Mercedes and Ofelia when she will not allow the faun to harm the baby.
This self sacrifice is very bold and honourable of the characters to do, this also shows that to have peace there must be sacrifice.

In conclusion there is a great mixture of allegory, fable and realism used in the film. This is shown throughout the film via the characters and their actions or in-actions. The film is Spanish because the film-maker is Mexican and also the story-line is set in Spain. This concludes my report on 'Pan's Labyrinth'.