Film review – Pan’s Labyrinth
Pan’s Labyrinth is fantasy film directed by Guillermo del Toro. It centers on Ofelia, a young Spanish girl who move with her mother to live with her new stepfather. The whole film is set within the context of the Spanish civil war in 1944. The film weaves the horrific traumas of the civil war seamlessly with the fantasy dream-like world that comes to life around Ofelia.
In many ways the film can be considered a classic portrayal of many gothic features. For example, the use of deep human instinctive fear is used throughout the piece and the traditional male role. The main setting for the film is an abandoned mill in the forests of Spain. This immediately links to the fear that all humans have in common, the fear of what lurks in the forest, the fear of the unknown. The first scene of the film depicts Ofelia and her mother travelling together through the forest and it clear from the wide ranging landscape shots and the mystery of the forest that this is not a common setting for the characters. This is a classic gothic troupe, which is also common within many children's fairy tales, the use of unknown is important because it creates images in the viewers mind of what they fear may be lurking in the deep shadows of the forest, without the film having to show these horrors. The forest however, later becomes a refuge for many characters including Mercedes and Ofelia. Later in the film, the unknown is used again when Ofelia is banished to her own bedroom so that her mother can rest. The film focuses on the showing the room with huge empty expanses and dark corners. This has the effect of making Ofelia appear very insignificant, scared and alone.
The feeling of being cut off from society and out of the reach of help is common in gothic horror, the main character needs to be threatened by their surroundings. In a similar way, the labyrinth in the film is another example of quintessential gothic setting. A labyrinth implies a never ending...