1. The imagery of Pan’s Labyrinth closely connects with the tradition of fairy-tales and fatasticliterature. In consultation with the reading on Pan’s Labyrinth’s narrative (esp. pp. 15 – 19), discuss the fairy-tale elements and narrative conventions used in the film. Make sure to address: (1) key characters of fairy tales as described by Vladimir Propp; how are these characters (magical helpers, villains, etc.) used in the film? Do these traditional characters ever take an unusual role: e.g. do magical helpers ever become villains? (2) other fairy-tale elements and iconography used in the film (the number three [or the trebling], the moral resolution, the key, etc.). How is the fairy-tale intertwined in the film with “reality”? How does the the film’s conception of fairy tales and monsters conform or break with fairy-tale mythology in terms of characterization and resolution?
2. In consultation with the reading on the film’s genre (pp. 21 – 28), discuss how Pan’s Labyrinth draws on the genres of horror and fantasy. What traditional conventions and iconoraphy of both genres does the film utilize? Does the director ever depart from or re-interpret the classical conventions of both genres? Give specific examples from the film. (For those of you interested in and familiar with other films of similar genres, feel free to compare Guillermo Del Toro’s film with other examples such as Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia).
3. The consultation with the reading on the film’s messages and values, provide a detailed discussion / interpretation of one of the film’s key themes (some of the themes that Tanya Jones, the author of your reading, points out are oppression and resistance, activity and passivity, family and gender, childhood, death and rebirth). Feel free to explore another theme or motif that you feel is prominent in the film (e.g. as some might argue that a prominent motif in the film is clocks. Is there anything else that you noticed?)
4. Discuss the film’s pictorial references (Goya, Rackham), lighting, color, and the use of diegetic and non-diegetic sound. How do the film’s aural and visual components establish the boundaries of the real world and the fantasy environment? Is the fantasy world always presented as escapist? (as an example, consult pp. 43 – 44: what is the role of the color red in the scenes depicting the lair of the Pale Man?)
And write two short peer reviews about those:
1. The fairy tale and reality were mixed together because it was a real life situation dealing with the war, but Ofelia has a connection to this fairy tale fantasy world. This connection resulted in a lot of fairy tale being present in the film. Fairy tale symbolism was in every scene. Like the reading says, her green dress with the white apron over it looks just like the dress from Alice and Wonderland. Another similarity between Pan’s Labyrinth and Alice and Wonderland it the creatures and how Ofelia, like Alice could see and talk to things no one else could see. The book she receives from the faun is a fairy tale like book that contains a story about her and she just happens to be a princess of a place that is not in real life. Each creature was either fairy tale or mythological. The fairies that accompanied her looked like they were straight from a fairy tale, which also fits with the animation inspiration from peter pan. The mythological parts of the film are what really stood out. The faun and the name Pan are 100% from mythology and the description the faun gives himself also fits in with this. The use of three is from mythology. Everything in mythology always occur in threes, whether it is tasks or actual creatures. The first example of creatures in a group of three that come to my mind are medusa and her two sisters. Anything that was magical in this movie was there to assist Ofelia in returning to her throne which is very typical from other films like this. There is always a younger person who learns about something that only they can be trusted to do and then they will encounter various magical creatures good and bad along the way.
2. Horror and Fantasy are shown in ways you would expect. Fantasy brought all of these amazing creatures and a task for Ofelia to complete in order for her to fulfill what is needed because she is a princess with a destiny. It was what you would think of with Fantasy. Horror was shown a little different. There was a lot of real horror. Normally when you think of a film in the horror genre you have a vision of a malicious creature, but this movie wasn’t necessarily like that. There was a creepy pale creature, but that alone couldn’t fill the horror. It was based around Ofelia’s home life. She has this new stepdad who is about as bad as it gets. He is even accompanied by ominous music. He provides the stress and feeling of being scared for Ofelia because you can tell he is her worst enemy and would harm her if he was given the chance. The use of real people and situations to portray the horror is why this film has such a good mix of fairy tale and reality. If this were done in the more popular way for horror this would have been all fantasy because it would have been a mix of deadly characters and those with a more magical feel. In this way the movie felt a lot like Narnia. In that movie these kids need to go against authority to regain their place at the throne, just like in Pan’s Labyrinth. Both movies have all of these fascinating creatures, but also possess these very real life villains for the most part.
3. I did notice the use of clocks and it reminded me of Run Lola Run. It was there to show that there is a time limit and that something is coming or needs to happen. Ofelia had only a little bit of time to accomplish what was needed, and her stepdad separately was running out of time to get what he wanted and time was running out for him and his cause. I can’t think of anything that really stood out to me that could be a good example of a motif in the film. Maybe the exaggeration with the blood on Ofelia meaning danger and sacrifice.
4. The darker blue ish colors used in the woods or when Ofelia was around the fairytale creatures was a huge sign for the presence of fantasy. It set the real life apart this way since it felt more ominous and mystical. There were brighter colors for when she was away from her fantasy world. The red present for the pale man was definitely a signal for danger. It was to show that she should not mess around in there and that something bad is going to happen. The color red almost causes panic and uneasiness for the viewer. There was a lot of diegetic sounds when she was in the woods and alone, but when there was someone else with her there were non-diegetic sounds. There were also non-diegetic sounds when there was danger. One instance that stood out was when this eerie music started playing in the presence of her stepdad, from this you knew he was trouble. Similar thing happened when she was faced with the pale man. Otherwise it was all natural noise in a way that made sense and presented a calmness with the film.
2.Propp’s fairy tale characters are almost entirely present in Pan’s Labyrinth. There’s the Hero, Villain, Donor, Helper,Princess and her Father, and Dispatcher. I don’t believe that the False Hero is present, because at the end of the film, no one tries to take credit for Ofelia’s actions. I wouldn’t consider Spain to be the Hero; rather, I think Ofelia meets these characteristics more. Spain is more of the Princess and her Father characteristic, with Vidal being the father. He claims to know what is best for the princess (Spain), but he does more harm than good in the process. Vidal is the Villain as well because he lacks respect for anyone or anything. Even in the scene when Ofelia is trying to take her brother away from Vidal, Vidal finds her chalk and crushes it immediately. The Faun takes the roles of Donor and Helper. He’s the Donor because he gives Ofelia the tools she needs to succeed, but he’s primarily the helper because he does more than that; he gives her encouragement and gives her a second chance when she fails him. The Dispatcher is somewhat ambiguous. I can see Ofelia being the dispatcher, because her imagination and creativity are what sets her down the path of helping the Faun in the first place, but it could also be the Faun himself, because he helps Ofelia jump in with both feet. The fairy tale is intertwined seamlessly with reality, and the scene toward the end with Vidal finding Ofelia speaking with the Faun is quite powerful. For the Fantasy genre, Del Toro uses fairies and other unrealistic creatures to signify when Ofelia is entering the fantasy world. For Horror, the film uses darkness to create tension. For example, when Tarta is captured and brought back to the stockroom, there is a camera angle from within the room facing outside. The space inside the room is dark, and the space outside is lit with daylight. From this cinematography, Del Toro is telling the audience that Tarta isn’t going to leave that room ever again, before the subsequent scene even takes place. The soundtrack also changes depending on when Ofelia is in her fantasy world or not. When she is, the music is light and happy (other than when she is with the Pale Man). It is more rhythmic and structured when Vidal is on camera. Oppression and Resistance is the biggest theme of the film. Every single character is dealing with it in one form or another. Aside from the obvious rebellion against Spain, Mercedes and Dr. Ferreiro rebel against Vidal, Ofelia rebels against her mother and Vidal and at the end, the Faun. Even Vidal rebels against Carmen by disrespecting her despite her being polite. Rebelling can be a symptom of built up tension, as well as a physical representation of passion by fighting for what you believe in. At its root, it is caused by unhappiness. The rebels are unhappy about the state of the country, Ofelia is unhappy about being under the same roof as Vidal, and Mercedes and Dr. Ferreiro fight a moral fight against Vidal.The color red is present for the entire time Ofelia spends in the Pale Man’s lair. The walls are red, his food is red, his wine is red, everything except for the man himself. But the entire time the audience sees him, he is thirsting, lusting, for more red. As the fairies help Ofelia escape, the Pale Man captures two, but rather than just tossing them aside to get to her, he savors eating them, covering his mouth in blood. I mentioned before the lighting when Tarta is captured signifies his demise.