Film Analysis Essay on Pan's Labyrinth

Published: 2021-07-02 21:36:22
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Vanderbilt University
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The Pans Labyrinth, is written and directed by Mexican film-maker Guillermo Del Toro. The name of the film originated from a Spanish name El Laberinto del Fauno; which translates to The Labyrinth of the Faun, the film has earned recognition in 2006 when it won an Academy Award-winning Spanish-language fantasy. However, the initial title meant only to the mythological faun, the English title depicts to the faun-like the Greek god Pan. However, Del Toro confirms that despite featuring Faun in the film, is not actually Pan. Most of the people who had a chance of watching Pans Labyrinth would easily classify it as a fantasy film, but from different angles, the film can also be perceived fantasy or war film. To make the matters clear, the following essay will discuss the genre of the film depending on its major theme, together with the different elements of the genre.

El Laberinto del Fauno has applied different components of the genre to bring the genre of the film. Pans Labyrinth is a mixture of various genres, including fantasy, Supernatural fiction horror, and historical drama, which portrays the progressing conflict subsequent to the end of the civil war. This film in its media forms associated with rebellion/war, families and gender. Also, the costume design establishes the real from the fantasy together with the soundtracks diegetically and non-diegetically, every version of the song is transformed from a lullaby to humming, instrumental tunes, it matches in completely with the fantasy theme (Yocom, 346).

Genre of Fairytales

In the genre of fairy tales, El Laberinto del Fauno has applied different component that brings out this genre, characterizing it with the fantasy, folkloric characters like fairies, giants, talking animals, witches and usually enchantments as well as magic. Pans Labyrinth is heavily typified with various features of fairy tales, beginning with the characters, like Faun, pale man, fairies, the magic book and magic chalk. The notion of set design originated from the literature and paintings. Ofelia appears like Alice in Wonderland' finding a fantasy. Normally the fairytales have the princes, in this film, Del Toro used Ofelia as the lost princess of the underworld, this is seen when Faun tells Ofelia to look at the back of her shoulder where she will find the mark of the crescent moon that identifies her as the princess. Therefore, the mentioned character was used to play their role in modifying the genre of fairy tales.

Additionally, there are imagery elements that make the film to fall under the genre of fairy tales. The presence of is three visible orders in the film, Ofelia's imaginary world, the revolutionaries and Vidal's fascist group. Del Toro describes that in the film is in three, there are three doors, three fairies, three crystals, three fascists, three thrones, three tasks, etc. The relationship between the imaginary world and, the fascists and the revolutionaries are too functional like the triangle, having the fascist group on the other side, while the rest of the two on the other side (Yocom 348).

There were components of magic, including, the magic book, and magic chalk.

Ofelia magical book is another element that makes the film to be categorized under this genre. She is being presented with it, which guides her on the three tasks that will prove her capable of returning the lost princes, Faun, back to her father's underworld kingdom. The book is blank and only Ofelia has the ability to read it, the book foretells Ofelia on how to progress her mission (Smith 5). Also, the book predicted her mother's pregnancy condition whereby Ofelia saw the red blood ink spreading in the book in a shape of a womb, and seconds later her mom collapsed on the floor of the next room as she was bleeding from her uterus and begging for help, she nearly died before being saved by the Faun.

Faun gives Ofelia a magic chalk that she used to draw the magic door that led her to the next mission of retrieving the golden dagger from the pale man. Even though the magic door closed while Ofelia was running towards it, she manages to draw another one which she used to escape the wrath of the pale man (Smith 7).

Fairies also make the film to be categorized as a fairy tale. There are fairies in the film which have been characterized in Ofelia's missions. The Fairies are little aerial beings. In the Pan's Labyrinth, the fairy appears slightly different compared to another version of fairies, initially, the fairy looked like a stick insect which appeared in the woods when Ofelia was traveling with her sick and pregnant mother, it appeared to her when she fixed a broken piece of stone on a statue next to the woods along their way. Also, when Ofelia and her mother arrived at their destination the large stick insect believed to be a fairy the appeared and leads Ofelia into the ancient stone labyrinth, before being interrupted by Mercedes, the Vidal's housekeeper (Yocom 351). The large stick insect, again appeared in Ofelia's bedroom at night while she was sleeping beside her mother, but Ofelia referred to the book and told the insect what she considers to be a fairy, the insect quickly transformed into a human-like fairy, which now leads Ofelia through the labyrinth where she met the Faun. In the other scene, when Ofelia was given the mission of fetching the golden dagger from the pale man, she was given three fairies as pets to guide her on the assigned delicate mission, regrettably, the two fairies were eaten by the pale man (Clark & McDonald 53).


The film is illustrated as a horror due to some of the elements on it, but not limited to: the presence of the characters with psychological, physical and/or spiritual deformities, narratives established on suspense, shock and surprise, visual composition that shift between the fear of not seeing and the horror of seeing. The Pans Labyrinth is deeply filled with all of these elements, making it much exciting visual narrative for one to watch as it develops.

Guillermo Del Toro has demonstrated the central themes of Pans Labyrinth like horrors of war, by using an innocent child who takes solace in an imaginary world, depicting the horrific in the history as well as the reality of the war.

Horror exceeds the reality of the characters together with the fantasy elements, signifying the reality such as a fairy-tale image generator. Thus, the mixture of the genre is significant to demonstrate the horrific drama that is rooted in a context of war with fairy tale and the mythological elements grafted on. (Herrero, 4).

Pans Labyrinth sound as the imagery attracts you into the story, with the creative and detailed formation that it was produced. Its costumes designs replace the use of the multitude of digital effects. Heavy breathing together with the film theme tune plays from the beginning, cutting to a picture is Ofelia lies on the ground while blood is trickling back into her nostril showing that time is running backward. Instantly, our suspense and horror develop, the camera fall into Ofelia's eyes and gets into the fantasy world. The voice over tells us of the fairytales and begins to demote the traumas of Spain. There are images that foretell the events in the narrative, for instance, The Fauns look is astonishing, she has a supernatural look, half human and half goat, as the film begins we are told that she transformed when she came into contact with the bright light of the earth. The Faun was immortal and supernatural.

The pale man that Ofelia is tasked to go and fetch the golden dagger from the pale man. Furthermore, the drawings on the walls show the horror that the kids have been going through in the hands of the pale man, whereby they were sacrificed and eaten during the 1944 Spanish civil war, this is supported by the evidence that is shown on the walls together with the piles of the shoes. Furthermore, the pale man physical structure has been used to bring the horrific imagery, given that he has no eyeballs on the eye socket, the pale man depends on the eyeballs that they are on the plate which he fixes on the two eyes in order to see the vicinity, all that does not look like a normal human structure. As well as we know, the body color and the look on his face and walking posture are not that of a human but a demonic one (Clark & McDonald 58).

Also, the giant toad that lives beneath the fig tree in the forest, it was fed with three magic stones given to Ofelia by Faun. The toad vomited the insides, leaving the empty toad skin aside, then Ofelia collected the key as instructed. That scene may appear scary for some of the viewers since it is not normal for such a thing to occur (Yocom 348).

Genre of War Film

The film reflects on the 1944 Spains civil war. We are introduced to Captain Vidal, the son of the former commander who believed in Falangist and was killed in Morocco. Vidal has the responsibility of hunting the republican rebels. Mercedes, Vidal housekeeper together with Doctor Ferreiro makes the genre stronger when they participate in secretly aiding the rebels in fighting Vidals army (Herrero 7). There are instances of torture and killings in the film. Vidal tortures the captive rebel, before killing Doctor Ferreiro after he euthanized the tortured prisoner. Towards the end of the film, Vidals is surrounded by the rebels led by Mercedes together with his brother Pedro who shot him in the face (Clark 59).


There is different iconography technique that El Laberinto del Fauno' applied to depict his main theme, firstly is the presence of some actors such as Faun, fairies, and the pale man is utilized to bring the image of a fairytale and supernaturalism of the film.

The piles of shoes at the corner of the pale mans hall together with the paintings on the wall that showed the wall were to illustrate the horrific character pf the pale man in killing and eating children. The Labyrinth, the fig tree cave and the magic door drawn with the chalk were also shown in the film to illustrate the difference between the two worlds, the ordinary and the supernatural one where the supernatural beings like Faun, Giant toad, and the pale, man lived (Smith 4).


In summary, it is clear that according to the cinematographic perception on the film Pans Labyrinth by El Laberinto del Fauno there are mixtures of the genre. The genre of fairytales, which is the most dominant, fairy of war history and genre of supernatural horror. El Laberinto del Fauno has applied visual elements in the respective scenes to make the film to fall under the genre simultaneously. In the genre of fairy tales, we have the three fairies, magic book, Faun, pale man, the giant toad and the magic door drawn by the chalk. While in the genre of the horror we have the torture of the prisoner of war, the supernatural structure of the pale man and Faun. And the genre of war history, we have the 1994 Spain civil war. Different actors a had their respective role to bring the Genre. In the genre of fairy tales, we have, Ofelia, Faun, fairies, pale man, and giant toad; while in the genre of war we have Mercedes, Vidal Pedro, Doctor Ferreiro and the rebels; Lastly, the genre of horror are Vidal, pale man, giant toad, and Faun. Some of the visual element that makes the film to be of a horrific genre is the painting on the pale man's hall walls.


Clark, R. And McDonald, K., (2010) A Constant Transit of Finding: Fantasy as Realization in Pans Labyrinth. Childrens Literature in Education. Vol. 41, pg. 52-63. (Accessed 19/02/2010)

Herrero, C., (2007) Pans Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno). [ONLINE] Corner house Manchester. UK: Manchester University. (Accessed 18/02/2010)

Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto Del...

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