Pan’s Labyrinth: Fairy Tale For Adults

By Jordan Hansgen

I was late to the party for this film, 10 years to be exact.  However, I was so impressed by it and enjoyed it so much that I feel the need to discuss it in this post.  Guillermo del Toro’s amazing work Pan’s Labyrinth parallels the harsh world of early fascist Spain and an original fairy tale world created by del Toro himself for the film.

The story is about Ofelia, a girl who moves with her pregnant mother to live with her stepfather Captain Vidal.  Vidal is fighting rebels in the Spanish countryside around his home and is ruthless and horrible.  At the mill, Ofelia journeys into a labyrinth and in the fairy tale world of the story, she meets the fawn, who gives her tasks to complete in order to return as the princess to another world.


Her mother dies in child birth and the fawn instructs Ofelia for the final task to shed the blood of an innocent to return to her kingdom.  Ofelia refuses to not hurt her brother and is killed by Vidal in the labyrinth.  Vidal is then captured and gives the baby to the rebels.  He asks them to tell him who his father is, but they say the boy won’t know his name and shoot him.  Ofelia sees a vision of her new kingdom just before her death, as her defying the fawn was the final test implying that she did make it to the kingdom.

The story does an excellent job of linking the two worlds.  The dangers that arise for the rebels as they are attacked and tortured by Vidal is paralleled to the increasing levels of danger for Ofelia in the tasks given to her by the fawn.

The other amazing parts of the story is the artistic beauty of the film and the score.  The main theme is beautiful and sad and fits the film perfectly.  The film also has beautiful scenery of the Spanish countryside.

This film is a masterpiece and although it is sad, I truly recommend it to any film fans.  The most important factor though is that you must watch it in spanish with english subtitles rather than English dubbed version.

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11 Responses to Pan’s Labyrinth: Fairy Tale For Adults

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I watched this movie my sophomore year for a Spanish class and I agree you have to watch it in Spanish with English subtitles! This movie fantastic with almost a haunting feel throughout. The scene that is still vivid for me is the one with the pale man at the dinner table. The room is so gorgeous and colorful while the food is mouthwatering in contrast to this gruesome, faceless man sitting among it all.

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I watched this a couple of years ago while taking a Spanish class and I definitely second the recommendation to others to watch it, it is a great film.

    -Max Lissette

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I, like a lot of others, watched this for a Spanish class, and there’s no wondering why – it’s a brilliant work of Spanish film. It was visually, musically, and contextually beautiful, and a movie that – no matter how violent – you couldn’t look away from. I also agree with the statement that you should watch it in its original language, not dubbed.

    -Meg Schmit

  4. I have never seen this, but it sounds lovely! Aesthetic beauty matched with an excellent score are always two pluses for me. The story itself sounds, exactly as you say, like a Fairy Tale for adults. I will add this to my list!

  5. mediaphiles says:

    I have not seen this as well, but I do enjoy Guillermo del Toro’s other works. The most recent film I saw of his was Crimson Peak, a gothic romance film whose visuals were outstanding. I think he really does a good job with the visual aspect of filmmaking and uses this to tell a great story. I hope to check out this movie one day when I am not binging on the newest Netflix series that seem to unexpectedly come my way.

    -Shelby Halliman

  6. mediaphiles says:

    I saw this film a few years ago and was extremely impressed. I had heard it was a fairy tale film, before I saw it, and was very pleasantly surprised to find that it is so much more than that. I agree with you that the film does a great job of linking the the two worlds and does so with amazing beauty. This is a really great film.

    -Walker Rise

  7. mediaphiles says:

    I watched this film for Movies, Magic and Meaning last year, and I can’t say I enjoyed it. I completely agree it was a beautiful film, but I couldn’t get into it. Maybe it was the subtitles and my short attention span? I should probably rewatch it without any distractions. -Caitlin Herlihy

  8. mediaphiles says:

    I’m a little late too! I haven’t seen this film yet, but it is definitely on my list to see. I didn’t realize it actually had any connection to the real world as it just looked like a fantasy. I need to check it out soon!

    -Jake Fallin

  9. marymdalton says:

    I agree, it’s a masterpiece. Definitely go with the subtitles. Better late to the party than to miss it entirely!

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