El laberinto del fauno
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Pan's Labyrinth (2006) More at IMDbPro »El laberinto del fauno (original title)

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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. It is assumed that no one who is diligently avoiding spoilers will be visiting this page in the first place.

No, it's in Spanish, because it's a Mexican-Spanish co-production, and it's set in Spain. However there are optional English subtitles, written by Guillermo Del Toro. Don't let the movie not being in English stop you from seeing it! The movie was also translated in French (Le Labyrinthe de Pan) and German (Pan's Labyrinth).

No, you should not let your children watch this movie. It is a soulful film, but due to graphic violence, lots of blood and fantastical but terrifying creatures, this film is not suitable for children of around 13 years in age.

This is truly an R rated film - a beautiful, imaginative fantasy yet brutal and quite violent. Del Toro calls it a "fairy tale for ADULTS". The girl is living in Spain during a turbulent time and Franco's army was capable of awful cruelty and it is shown. Captain Vidal is a particularly sadistic character, his terrible acts, particularly at the end of the film, contrasting with the vivid beauty of the cinematography. Also much of Ofelia's fantasy concerns her powerful and ambivalent feelings towards her unborn sibling and her mother. I think even older children may well find both these things deeply unsettling. Having said that, perhaps most children's strongest reaction will be boredom as the film is very much for adults in both its subject matter and structure. Also, since this film is in Spanish, please keep in mind that unless your child(ren) are fluent in this language, they will have to read subtitles.

However, every child is different and if you feel your kids can see the movie and are mature enough then go ahead. You might want to watch it with them though, or even before they watch. For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for El Laberinto del fauno can be found at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0457430/parentalguide.

No, Guillermo del Toro himself wrote the story.

El Laberinto del Fauno literally translated means The Labyrinth of the Faun. Since in English faun (a satyr) and fawn (a baby deer) are both pronounced the same, it was believed that there would be some confusion so the English title is Pan's Labyrinth even though the faun is not the god Pan.

The fact the Faun is not Pan is made clear by director, Guillermo del Toro in the special features, as he says he did not want the sexual god Pan to be a character opposite a young girl.

No, it is not his voice. His voice was dubbed in post-production by Pablo Adan. Despite that, Doug Jones learned his lines and those of Ivana Baquero in Spanish.

"I've done four films with Doug Jones. Every actor has a particular gift, you know? One of the gifts that is most mysterious and elusive is the gift of working under makeup. Some great ones, like Laurence Olivier, excelled at it. He used to very graciously say to his makeup guys, "You're doing half the work for me." Lon Chaney, Ron Perlman [who played the title character in Hellboy] are so good at it. There are some actors who are very, very good and nevertheless are terrible under makeup, making the makeup look stiff. But Doug isn't just an actor who's really good with makeup; he's a guy who specializes in creating a whole ecosystem around the creature. He moves, walks, breathes the way this creature would. That's acting, that's not mimicry or pantomime. He's really, no pun intended, under the skin of the character. The biggest quality an actor can have is to be there in the moment. To do that for a fantasy creature is truly a gift."

- Guillermo del Toro

Doug had to look through the nostrils of the mask to see where he was going. However, he had to look through the left nostril with his right eye and the right nostril with his left, making it impossible for him to watch where he was going with both eyes at the same time.

No, he came from Guillermo del Toro's own imagination. However, the character was heavily influenced by Goya's painting 'Saturn Devouring his Son'. You can see the painting here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Saturno_devorando_a_sus_hijos.jpg

Certain characteristics of the Pale Man may also have been partly inspired by German and Scandinavian folk tales, in which persons or monsters representing the dead (or being dead themselves) are usually portrayed as blind or at least very near-sighted, and often also as child-eaters.

Ofelia claims that she ate the two grapes because she didn't think they would be missed. One can draw certain parallels to the Greek myth of Persephone and the Biblical myth of the Garden of Eden. However, she appeared to be in a sort of trance with the forbidden fruit acting as a sort of a Siren's Song.

Something that may also have been of influence is that Ofelia was sent to bed without dinner the evening before as a punishment for ruining her dress and missing the dinner party. The hunger would have made her more susceptible to the "Siren Song" of the fruits displayed at the banquet. Moreover, given the level of rationing at the time, it may be possible that grapes were a luxury that Ofelia now misses.

Also, the fairies were trying to convince her to open the wrong door with the key. Therefore, she no longer trusted them and didn't believe that anything bad would happen if she ate any of the food. So she brushed the fairies away and ate the grapes.

Furthermore, it could be said that Ofelia and her mother, while both in 'discomfort', were both eating from the 'same table'. One could say that Ofelia's mother was not happy with her relationship with the Captain. Nevertheless, although it harmed her soul, she was still attracted by all the pleasures that came along. Ofelia's eating the fruit can be seen as a metaphor for her mother eating at the 'same table' with someone that, at first, looked harmless; but, on further insight, turned out to be a monster.

Various speculations in this FAQ consider why a real person might act in this way, but the reason may have less to do with characterisation and more with genre convention. Anyone who knows European folktales (fairytales) will be familiar with the story structure being used here in which a hero (often a young princess) must complete a series of tasks (usually three) to win a prize. A familiar element of this is a dire warning to avoid some particular action (most often eating). Invariably the hero fails to heed such warnings, and it can be argued that del Toro is simply following the rules in having Ofelia do the same. However, characterisation in the original folktales is often very shallow, and some may feel that a serious movie with more careful characterisation, also requires more care with elements of this kind. Indeed to have Ofelia eat while standing with back firmly turned to a scary monster (which most real children would watch very carefully) raises the suspicion that plot and character logic may have been abandoned here simply for the sake of setting up the dramatic chase which follows.

In addition to all of the above, consider that the underlying theme of a great portion of the movie concerns obedience: Capitan Vidal is blindly obedient; the doctor specifically accuses him of such after refusing the captain's orders to save the tortured man. By contrast, the heroes of this film are the disobedient ones, and so it is only fitting, albeit quite confusing at first, that Ofelia should eat the grapes, even when clearly told not to. Aside from the fact that her doing so also creates quite a juicy (pun intended) moment of tension for the viewer, who is inwardly shouting "Don't eat the grapes!" (a tension that del Toro sets up very obviously by having Ofelia's back to the monster), it is also by having it so completely and perfectly obvious that she absolutely MUST be obedient that helps to very brilliantly underline this moment of pure disobedience on her part.

Also, it is important to remember the third task, in which not following the rules was the best answer: Ofelia passes the test by sparing her infant brother, at the cost of her own mortal life, though she had promised to obey the faun.

According to his interview with twitchfilm.net, Guillermo Del Toro said that the fantasy world isn't only Ofelia's imagination; the fantasy world does exist. In the ending, Ofelia does actually live in the world (where she would be more happy to live in than the real world).

Source: http://twitchfilm.net/archives/008507.html

A more subtle clue lies in the movie itself: After discovering that Ofelia knew the truth about Mercedes, Vidal has Ofelia locked in her room, and the guard stationed outside has orders to kill Ofelia first if anyone tries to come to her rescue. So if she didn't use the faun's magical chalk to create a door in the wall, how did Ofelia successfully leave her room and escape the notice of the guard? Her room had no windows for her to use, either.

The answer is mainly in the knife she was using. It's just a paring knife and as such it is neither very big nor is it very sharp. Also, Mercedes is very frightened and wants to get out of there as quickly and quietly as possible. As such, she simply tries to incapacitate him long enough for her to make her escape.

As well, Mercedes had earlier spoke of her shame and cowardice for not killing the Captain given her easy access to him, so she must be ambivalent. At the moment of her best chance to act, even saying to the Captain: You won't be the first pig I've gutted, she relents. She knows how to slaughter farm animals with a simple gash across the shallow main arteries and windpipe in the neck, so she must have decided that mutilating his face (after first slicing his back and stabbing his upper chest) would give her what she needs most then, her escape so that she may save others, not only her self.

In the final test Ofelia passes (sparing her infant brother though it costs her own mortal life); we learn a truly moral person must never shed innocent blood when ones own blood might do. We may see Mercedes actions when she had a chance to kill Captain Vidal as perhaps more heroic, certainly more ambiguous and thus more grown-up than even Ofelias sparing of her own infant brother. Given that the Captains actions throughout the film are far from innocent (apparently guided by sadistic cruelty, vanity and a death wish to follow his fathers death in battle,) Mercedes decision to spare his life (at least then) could be highest among the ethical highpoints of the film. (The doctors actions, especially euthanizing the captured, tortured guerrilla, are also potent examples of right action.)

Why Mercedes spared the Captains life then may never be fully explicable. But it sure gets you thinking about Mercedes as role model for Ofelias final, mortal, moral choice.

It is possible, Mercedes wanted to delay Vidal's death in order to let him see how his world deteriorates before his eyes before the end of the film; she would do this knowing the guerillas have invaded the storage barn and gotten a reinforcement of fifty men, at which point making Vidal's defeat certain.

The act of killing may be something the Mercedes character associated with Vidal and him only, therefore killing anyone in her mind would make her feel similar and in line with Vidal.

Also, the act of cutting Vidal's face creates a tangible, visual representation of his sadistic cruelty in an otherwise well kept and ordered military appearance. Bringing his proverbial "ugliness" into view, not unlike Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Also, the doctor says to Pedro earlier that if they were to replace Vidal, he would just be replaced by another Fascist so they would be wasting their time.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan%27s_labyrinth

Guillermo 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. In 2004 Del Toro said: "Pan is an original story. Some of my favorite 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 (remember the labyrinth image on Hellboy?) and I am trying to mix them and play with them." Some of the works he drew on for inspiration include Jorge Luis Borges' Labyrinths, 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 Saturn Devouring His Son. It can be seen as a cinematic example of the Latin American literary genre of magic realism.

From: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/story/0,23663,21079081-5007181,00.html

"This is my version of that universe, not only Narnia, but that universe of children's literature." -- Guillermo del Toro

In this case, it depends on if you add the credits to the runtime, or if you have a NTSC-disc or a PAL-disc. PAL-discs are always 4% faster than the NTSC-equivalent, but it's hardly noticable. There is only one version of PAN'S LABYRINTH.

It was simply part of the test. Ofelia needed to prove that she herself knew the correct door. There are also parallels here with the non-fantasy plot. In the conversation between the doctor and Vidal, the doctor talks about not blindly following orders, stating that only a person like Vidal is able to do that. In fact, it could be argued that all three tests are designed to prove that she is the opposite of Vidal's character.

It has also been suggested that, in many fairytales involving a choice among three things, two will be made of some nice material, such as silk or metal, and one of a cheaper, less impressive material. The correct choice is, of course, the cheaper less impressive material. The three doors, from left to right, seem to be made of wood, some sort of metal, and another type of metal. Ofelia, like her fairytale counterparts, knew it was the cheaper material (wood), and thus chose it and not the metal door the fairies pointed out.

If she gave up the baby, she would fail the test, but if she did not, how would she pass the test?


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