Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pan's Labyrinth

Release Date: May 27, 2006
Language: Spanish (with English Sub-titles)
Rating: R
Run Time: 118 minutes
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Awards: Academy Award for best cinematographer, Goya Award for best special effects, Academy Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Award for best makeup

           Pan's Labyrinth takes place during 1944 in a Fascist- ruled Spain. The protagonist, Ofelia, and her pregnant mother move to a military outpost to stay with her stepfather, the barbaric captain of the Spanish army. Wanting to escape from the cruel war ridden environment, Ofelia creates her own magical world. In this world, a faun tells her she is the daughter of the underworld. In order to return to the underworld, she must complete three tasks before the full moon sets. Being infatuated with fairy tales, she undoubtedly agrees. Without her knowledge, the alternative world is just as scary as the real one. It too has frightening monsters waiting for her just around the corner. While this is going on, military guerrillas are trying and succeeding to fight back against the captain and his troops with the help of the captain's doctor and Mercedes, a maid in the military outpost, without his knowledge.
        The text brings up two directions that the cinema follows. They are realism and anti-realism. Pan's Labyrinth goes in both directions. The movie "implies that the world it depicts looks, sounds, and moves like the real world" (pg. 50). The viewers know that there is a war going on because they see soldiers, ammunition, and battle scenes. Carmen is scene as a typical sick person in real life just like in the film. She is weak and is forced to bed rest from her pregnancy. Anti-realism is when a movie is abstract, speculative, or fantastic. Pan's Labyrinth is fantastic. It has creatures that don't exist in real life, such as a huge toad, fairies, a faun, a monster, and an alive mandrake root. No person can live in the "underworld" after death like Ofelia did. It is physically impossible. 
        The Feminist Theory plays a key role in this film. There are many aspects that show the women are seen as weak and controlled, but then they overcome this in the end. The Feminist Theory is truly represented based off the setting of the story. It takes place at a military outpost, where there are mostly strong men. The only women there Mercedes, Ofelia, Carmen, and some others. Mercedes and the other staff all have a low status of a maid or cook. This theory is also first seen when Ofelia's mother asks her to refer to Captain as  "Father", even though he is not. This shows that the Captain is the one who is charge and has authority over Ofelia. When Ofelia and Carmen arrive at the military outpost, the Captain is holding his watch and looking at how late they are. The watch represent how the captain controls Ofelia and Carmen. Also when Carmen is asked to sit in the wheel chair, so she can keep her strength, it shows that Carmen is both physically weak and weak because she is a woman. The captain makes sure the audience knows that woman are inferior when he specifically asks the doctor to keep his wife alive until the baby is born because it was a boy. If the baby wasn't, the captain would let her die. Despite all these subtle cues about inferiority and the death of Carmen, Ofelia and Mercedes show that they can overcome their stigmas. Mercedes successfully help the guerrillas fight back by providing them with food. The captain is then seen as incoherent compared to her. She also overcomes the view of being weak when she escapes from being tied up and stabs the captain. This symbolizes that she will not be controlled anymore and he is being brought down below a woman's level of inferiority. Even though the captain kills Ofelia, she escapes from his authoritative grasp and reaches her imaginary safe place. 

       The first article, "Pan"s Labyrinth: A subjective view on childhood fantasies and the nature of evil", offers keen insight about how Ofelia's harsh situations isolated herself from her reality. This isolation for her, since she loves fairy tales, is a personal fantasy that allows some sort of escapism. Because of the outsets, Ofelia experiences distress. She is growing up in the rune of a war and witnesses a lot of trauma. Her mother's remarriage has affected Ofelia as she struggles to accept her stepfather. Also, when Ofelia states, "...she's sad sometimes for days end," it is implies that her mother is depressed. "It is known that a mental illness affecting a parent, can have profound psychological effects on a child" (Segel). Her stepfather leaves Ofelia feeling confused, scared, and lonely because of him being distant, scornful, and reprimanding of her. These feelings make Ofelia susceptible to stress response and susceptible into harsh realities into her fantasies. These essential parts of the story push her into being absorbed into the story. She truly completes her detachment from the real world when the captain shoots her. In her own mind, she is ascending to the underworld her mother and father are. She is happy at disobeying the captain and she successfully detaches herself from the real world, just how she wanted it to be.
          The second article by Peter Travers praises Guillermo Del Toro's gothic twist film that scares people senseless. He compares Pan's Labyrinth to other memorable movies, like Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban. The movie is great because "the viewer gets to see the trauma of war through the eyes of little girl in a horrific and heartfelt way". Travers especially boasts about how nothing could prepare someone for the "impact of watching harsh reality and harsher fantasy bleed into each other". This film is more than a visionary ravishment, but you feel like you've never seen the world before with aching beauty and terror in the setting, genre, and language in this film. Del Toro does not try to cover up brutality of the Spanish Civil War either. The haunting fantasy world that Ofelia is in, mirrors the outside world. This is done through puppets, prosthetics, and computer-generated images. When leaving the film, Del Toro wants us to be shaken to our souls. He succeeds.
          The pace of the movie is very fast, which is great. This made the film go by faster and had more tension in certain parts. For example, when the captain is chasing after Ofelia in the labyrinth, the scenes are juxtaposed. Each scene is no longer than five sentences. This keeps us on the edge of our seat wondering if he is going to catch Ofelia. Another fast paced scene was when Ofelia gets the key from the Pale Man's cave. The viewers know that she was not suppose to eat any food on the table and she does. After she does this, the scenes keep cutting back and forth between her and the Pale Man Waking up. The scenes are also fast paced when the Pale Man is chasing her. The viewer starts to feel anxious and scared for Ofelia. During every cut, the Pale Man is gaining on her while Ofelia is trying to make a door out of the chalk. The costumes and scenery were very gothic, which helped embrace the story line and setting. Most of the furniture was old, worn out, and dark colored. The costumes had no bright colors, just simple, faded hues of browns, grays, and greens. On the other hand, there was no cue about the time span of the film. I did not notice any fade to blacks, which usually lets the viewer know that there is a passage of time. The film could have been a few days long or even a month. The really liked how the first article helped explain the psychological aspect of what is going on in Ofelia's mind. The second article praised the gothic fantasy so much, but didn't provide enough examples why it was so horrific.


1) (√)  I have not handed in this assignment for any other class.  

2)  (√)  If I reused any information from other papers I have written for other classes, I clearly explain that in the paper. 

3)  (√)  If I used any passages word for word, I put quotations around those words, or used indentation and citation within the text. 

4) (√)  I have not padded the bibliography. I have used all sources cited in the bibliography in the text of the paper. 

5) (√)  I have cited in the bibliography only the pages I personally read.  
6) (√)  I have used direct quotations only in cases where it could not be stated in another way. I cited the source within the paper and in the bibliography.  
7) (√ )  I did not so over-use direct quotations that the paper lacks interpretation or originality.    
8) (√)  I checked yes on steps 1-7 and therefore have been fully transparent about the research and ideas used in my paper.  

Name___Kellie Howering____________________________________ Date___10/21/12________________________ 

Editing Checklist

1. (√) An introductory paragraph clearly introduces the subject. The topic statement is evident within the paragraph. The position taken is clear. If the position is unclear, put a question mark in the margin.

2. (√) The next two paragraphs have a single or main claim. Note each claim in the margin in a 3-4 word phrase. If you can’t identify the claim, put a question mark in the margin. If two or more claims exist, and tend to diverge from a coherent thought, put a question mark in the margin.

3. (√) The same thing holds for the next two paragraphs on the opposite side of the issue.

4. (√) The four paragraphs above all focus on the issue at hand; they do not wander off into irrelevant territory. If any paragraph wanders, put a question mark in the margin

5. (√) The sixth paragraph weighs the conflicting claims from the four paragraphs above and arrives at a conclusion. Why some evidence is more convincing than other evidence is explained. The ensuing conclusion is clearly stated. Circle it. If you can’t find the conclusion, put a question mark in the margin.

6. (√) The final paragraph returns to what was stated in the first paragraph and, in light of the evidence presented and weighed above, convincingly rephrases the position statement. If the conclusion expected by the assignment is to be finessed, justifying statements for the variance must appear here and flow-from the explanation in the sixth paragraph of your paper.

7. (√) Is each claim in paragraphs 2-5 supported by evidence? Are there any naked claims supported only by variations of "I believe...”? If so, put a big X in the margin beside that paragraph.

8. (√) Is each claim backed up by a reference? If a claim stands naked of supporting evidence or argument, put a big X in the margin.

9. (√) Does the paper do more than simply but gloriously restate the question? Examine the case study and cross out all ideas that appear in both the case study and in your paper. What remains-uncrossed out is your analysis. It should constitute the majority of your paper. If it doesn't, you haven’t done an analysis.

10. (  ) A sentence lacks either a subject or a verb; a sentence does not begin with a capital letter or end with a period (citations in parentheses go ahead of periods, not behind them).

I l. (  ) A sentence begins with a relative pronoun such as Which, Who, That, Where, and When.

12. (  ) A pronoun lacks a clear antecedent; that is, a word such as it, he, she, or they does not have an obvious link to a noun (especially noticeable if a sentence begins with it, he, she, or they).

13. (  ) A pronoun or verb fails to agree with its antecedent in number; that is, a single person or agency is referred to as they, or a plural subject is given a singular verb (such as, "members of the school board....gives their vote...").

14. (  ) A sentence runs-on or uses a comma to splice independent ideas together; that is, complex ideas are not split into two sentences but are linked, often by a comma, into an overly long, wandering sentence.

Barsam, Richard Meran., Dave Monahan, and Karen M. Gocsik. "Chapter 2: Principles of Film Form."  Looking at Movies: An Introduction to Film. Third ed. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2010. 50-52. Print.

"Pan's Labyrinth." IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2012. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0457430/>.

Segal, Timothy. "Pan ' S Labyrinth : A Subjective View on Childhood Fantasies and the Nature of Evil." International Review of Psychiatry 21.3 (2009): 269-70. Print.

Travers, Peterson. "Pan's Labyrinth." Rollingstone.com. N.p., 26 Dec. 2006. Web. 25 Oct. 2012. <http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/pans-labyrinth-20061229>.

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