Monday, April 30, 2012

A Walk Through Pans Labyrinth

 Dr. Deveny's lecture on Pans Labyrinth was very unique compared to other classes and fairy tales we have discussed primarily because Pans Labyrinth takes place in a much more contemporary setting than most stories we have looked at. Although it took place a seventy years ago, it is still far more contemporary than any of the other stories, most of which were written at least several hundred years ago, and probably originated far before then.

The contemporary nature of Pans Labyrinth is distinct in the war setting of the movie, in which it portrays the 1940's Spain and the fear and distrust of authority that was prevalent among the rebels at the time. This was well tied in to the story as it was properly intertwined with the fairy tale characteristics of the story, in aspects such as the magical mandrake root that was supposed to heal the mother. Not only was the mandrake root taken by the authority, but even the mother herself had grown too pessimistic to believe in it.

The magical Mandrake Root

Furthermore, Pans Labyrinth replaces the classical one evil model of the fairy tale and replaces it with a dual evil model. In more classic fairy tales, like Snow White, and Little Red Riding hood, the evil character, the witch and the wolf, are combined with the magical aspects of the story. In this story however, there is evil in the natural, in the form of the Franco government, and there is also a separate evil supernatural, in creatures such as the pale man and the toad. This separation is interesting, as they are not actually directly connected, except via Ofelia, other than her they don't much acknowledge each others existence and deem each other far less important than themselves.

The Pale Man

These distinctions in Pans Labyrinth are made more interesting by the fact that it follows that functions of a fairy tale very accurately. In our discussion, Dr. Deveny mentioned that all but one function, the false hero, is found somewhere in the movie, and most of which occur more than once. This causes the movie to be a very archetypical fairy tale in a very non-archetypical setting. Even classic stories such Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood did not nearly follow every function, but Pans Labyrinth took it to the extreme and attached almost all functions.

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