Pan's Labyrinth  

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Pan's Labyrinth (Spanish: El Laberinto del Fauno, literally The Labyrinth of the Faun) is a Spanish-language fantasy film written and directed by Mexican film-maker Guillermo del Toro. Though the original title referred only to the mythological faun, the English title refers to the faun-like Greek god Pan. Del Toro has stated, however, that the faun featured in the film is not actually Pan.

Pan's Labyrinth, set in post-Civil War Spain, tells the story of a girl named Ofelia who is given three tasks by a mysterious faun. Meanwhile, her stepfather, the fascist Captain Vidal, viciously hunts for rebels in the region, and her pregnant mother grows ill. Heavily influenced by fairy tales and considered a spiritual sequel to Devil's Backbone, the film employed make-up, puppetry, and CGI effects to create its fantasy creatures.

Del Toro has said the film has strong connections in theme to The Devil's Backbone and should be seen as an informal sequel dealing with some of the issues raised there. Fernando Tielve and Íñigo Garcés, who played the protagonists of The Devil's Backbone, make cameo appearances as unnamed guerrilla soldiers in Pan's Labyrinth. Some of the other works he drew on for inspiration include Lewis Carroll's Alice books, Jorge Luis Borges' Ficciones, Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan and The White People, Lord Dunsany's The Blessing of Pan, Algernon Blackwood's Pan's Garden and Francisco Goya's works. In 2004, del Toro said: "Pan is an original story. Some of my favourite writers (Borges, Blackwood, Machen, Dunsany) have explored the figure of the god Pan and the symbol of the labyrinth. These are things that I find very compelling and I am trying to mix them and play with them." It was also influenced by the illustrations of Arthur Rackham.

Plot

In a fairy tale, Princess Moanna, whose father is the king of the underworld, visits the human world, where the sunlight blinds her and erases her memory. She becomes mortal and eventually dies. The king believes that eventually, her spirit will return to the underworld, so he builds labyrinths, which act as portals, around the world in preparation for her return.

In 1944 Francoist Spain, ten-year-old Ofelia travels with her pregnant but sickly mother Carmen to meet Captain Vidal, her new stepfather. Vidal, the son of a famed commander who died in Morocco, believes strongly in Falangism and has been assigned to hunt down republican rebels. A large stick insect, which Ofelia believes to be a fairy, leads Ofelia into an ancient stone labyrinth, but she is stopped by Vidal's housekeeper Mercedes, who is secretly supporting her brother Pedro and other rebels. That night, the insect appears in Ofelia's bedroom, where it transforms into a fairy and leads her through the labyrinth. There, she meets a faun, who believes she is the reincarnation of Princess Moanna. He gives her a book and tells her she will find in it three tasks to complete in order for her to acquire immortality and return to her kingdom.

Ofelia completes the first task — retrieving a key from the belly of a giant toad — but becomes worried about her mother, whose condition is worsening. The faun gives Ofelia a mandrake root, instructing her to keep it under Carmen's bed in a bowl of milk and regularly supply it with blood, which seems to ease Carmen's illness. Accompanied by three fairy guides and equipped with a piece of magic chalk, Ofelia then completes the second task — retrieving a dagger from the lair of the Pale Man, a child-eating monster. Although warned not to consume anything there, she eats two grapes, awakening the Pale Man. He devours two of the fairies and chases Ofelia, but she manages to escape. Infuriated at her disobedience, the faun refuses to give Ofelia the third task.

During this time, Ofelia quickly becomes aware of Vidal's ruthlessness in the course of hunting down the rebels. After he murders two local farmers detained on suspicion of aiding the rebels, Vidal interrogates and tortures a captive rebel. He asks Doctor Ferreiro to tend to the captive, whom Ferreiro then euthanises at the rebel's own urging. Realising that Ferreiro is a rebel collaborator, Vidal kills him. Vidal later catches Ofelia tending to the mandrake root, which he considers delusional. Carmen agrees and throws the root into the fire. She immediately develops painful contractions and dies giving birth to Vidal's son.

Mercedes, having been discovered to be a spy, tries to escape with Ofelia, but they are caught. Ofelia is locked in her bedroom, while Mercedes is taken to be interrogated and tortured. Mercedes frees herself, stabs Vidal, and re-joins the rebels. The faun, having changed his mind about giving Ofelia a chance to perform the third task, returns and tells her to bring her newborn brother into the labyrinth to complete it. Ofelia successfully retrieves the baby and flees into the labyrinth. Vidal pursues her as the rebels launch an attack on the outpost. Ofelia meets the faun at the centre of the labyrinth.

The faun suggests drawing a small amount of the baby's blood, as completing the third task and opening the portal to the underworld requires the blood of an innocent, but Ofelia refuses to harm her brother. Vidal finds her talking to the faun, whom he cannot see. The faun leaves, and Vidal takes the baby from Ofelia's arms before shooting her. Vidal returns to the labyrinth's entrance, where he is surrounded by rebels, including Mercedes and Pedro. Knowing that he will be killed, he hands the baby to Mercedes and asks that she tell his son the exact time of his death. Mercedes refuses, telling him that his son will not even know his name. Pedro then shoots Vidal dead.

Mercedes enters the labyrinth and comforts a motionless but breathing Ofelia. Drops of Ofelia's blood fall down the centre of the spiral stone staircase onto an altar. Ofelia, well dressed and uninjured, then appears in a golden throne room. The King of the underworld tells her that, by choosing to spill her own blood rather than that of another innocent, she passed the final test. The faun praises Ofelia for her choice, addressing her once more as "Your Highness". The Queen of the underworld, her mother, invites Ofelia to sit next to her father and rule at his side. Back in the stone labyrinth, Ofelia smiles as she dies in Mercedes' arms.

The epilogue completes the tale of Princess Moanna, stating that she returned to the Underworld, ruled wisely for many centuries, and left quiet traces of her time in the human realm "visible only to those who know where to look."





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Pan's Labyrinth" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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