Pan’s Labyrinth: One girl’s reality.

Pan’s Labyrinth Trailer

Director: Guillermo Del Toro

Sreenwriter: Guillermo Del Toro

Starring:  Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil and Sergi López

Pan’s Labyrinth: One girl’s reality.

Guillermo Del Toro’s (2006) Pan’s Labyrinth deals with one girls reversion into a mythical world of her, supposed, own making. However how can we truly know what is real and is reality objective. Through psychoanalysis one could be lead to believe that Ophelia’s world is a happenstance of the harsh and cruel world she lives in (Seagal, 2006). How then do we know if it is her circumstance that mars her reality or if her fantasy can have an outcome on her other life thus having an effect on reality? If her fantasy can affect reality what is to say that it too is not within the realm of reality?

Early on we hear Ophelia’s mother remonstrating her for bringing to many books to her step-fathers’ abode, especially the fact they are fairytales and these are nonsense. However it is these fairytales and the girl’s beliefs that allow her to live through a harrowing existence. In her new home Ophelia is visited by a faun who gives her instructions to fulfil a quest to return the princess of the opening fable to her father. What ensues is a fantastical journey played against the background of the brutality of Vidal and Franco’s Spain.

Throughout the film we see instances of the sheer brutality of Ophelia’s stepfather and as an audience it would be easy to sympathise with Ophelia’s reversion to fantasy in escaping her horrid reality but how can we explain things from her fantasy impacting on her reality. If you consider the instance of Vidal finding Ophelia’s magic root and her mother’s subsequent hurling of it into the fire remonstrating to Ophelia that there is no such thing as magic. How can you explain the immediate effects of the magic roots death to that of the complications of Carmen’s pregnancy and death? MacKinnon and Heise (2010, p.232) assert that the continental philosophers view of reality is subject to the use of language, and in some instance visuals, and it is therefore society and reality that is made from the construction of words. If this is the case then cannot Ophelia create her own reality in parallel to the reality of the other protagonists in the film?

Ophelia’s death in one world and re-birth of life in the world of her fantasies is the final time where we can see her ‘fantasy’ impacting on reality. Her refusal to turn her brother over to the faun or Vidal displays a merging of both realities which affects both worlds (Orme, 2010). That is her death in one and new life in another.

Mackinnon, N., & Heise, D. (2010). Self, identity and social institutions. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan.

Orme, J. (2010). Narrative desire and disobedience in Pan’s Labyrinthe. Marvels & Tales: Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies,24(2), 219–234. Retrieved From: /pqdweb?index=0&di

Segal, T. (2009). Pan’ s Labyrinth : A subjective view on childhood fantasies and the nature of evil. International Review of Psychiatry, 21(3), 269-270. doi: 10.1080/09540260902747193


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