When fantasy does not win reality: Pan’s Labyrinth

Reviewed by: Baek, Jin Wook                                                                                                                16, Decemeber, 2018

Director: Guillermo Del Toro                                                                                              Genre: Fantasy, Drama                                                                                                        Release Date: 11 October 2006

Fantasy is a genre that draws things that would never happen in the world nor would never exist in this world, but the reason why fantasy is loved all over the world is truly shown in this film. Director Guillermo Del Toro, he is a Mexican director, producer, screenwriter, novelist, known as genius of imagination where he puts heavy source into fantasy. He also produced well known films like Hellboy, Blade 2 and today’s reviewed film Pan’s Labyrinth ,which he was awarded at ” Saturn Awards ,  British Academy Film Awards and National Society of Film Critics Awards”. In Pan’s Labyrinth, you will definitely feel your five senses are responding rapidly. 

In 1944, in the time of the Spanish civil war, rebellions and government troops continued to pursuit, Ofelia our main character and her mother moves to the place where Ofelia’s step father Vidal is. However Vidal only cares about his unborn son and treats Ofelia and her mother cold as an ice. 
Ofelia had to deal with Vidal’s coercive and violent attitude and in this fear
 fairy comes and leads her into a cave with a mysterious maze. Where Ofelia met Pan. Pan told Ofelia that she  was actually a princess of the underground fairy kingdom, and she missed the sun and the sky and came to the human world, lost her memory and now she is living like a human. 
In order to be a princess of the fairy kingdom again,  Ofelia must  fulfill three duties, and Ofelia, who wanted to escape from this terrible place, accepts the mission. While fulfilling the mission, mystery characters and things happen in the real life. I hoped the film ends in happy ending but sadly it ended tragically but somehow beautifully (Saying in the fantasy life of Ofelia). 


The characters in the story was very impressive, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) showed the aestheticism of Spanish actress  and gave strong impression even though she was young. Vidal (Seregi  Lopez), a villainous villain,  he showed a charismatic villain without a sudden change of emotions, but rather a witty expression and ambivalence. This film I felt is pure perfect imagination of Guillermo Del Toro,the director, who has unleashed his own comic and bizarre imagination, differing from previous fantasy movies in Hollywood. The film is contains horror and sensational scene and it truly broke the barrier of “Fantasy if for Children”. 

I was most impressed in the way of putting fantasy in the story. The genre of this film is considered fantasy but it is connected with reality. This joyful imagination in this movie is not the most important thing and I know it’s ironic to say that imagination is not important in a movie that portrays a fantasy genre but the film does not attempt to focus the story of the fantasy world in all of the scenes. Once in Hogwarts, like the Harry Potter series, the passage to the outside world is not blocked nor the story is made in a purely virtual world without reality at all, like the Lord of the Rings series. Pan’s Labyrinth, while turning my eyes to the fantasy world, it makes me to pay  attention to the reality with almost equal weight. just like the role of chalk through the door to the imaginary world., the boundaries between reality and fantasy in this movie are often cut off and connected at any time.

(Ofelia going in to a world through the door drawn by magical Chalk)

Also, the reality of Ofelia, which is turning its attention to this film perhaps more than the world of fantasy, is terribly in the middle of the Spanish civil war. Fore me, As the film focuses on the reality, the film shows a lot of the violent violence and slaughter of humans appearing at times of war. Beer bottles are used to crush the innocent peasants noses and make the human body fall into disuse. In the midst of a war that solves everything with no countermeasures of violence without the slightest humanity, the appearance of the unruly people contrasts with the fantasy world in which Ofelia is performing her mission made me more serious and somehow sad. 

You’re getting older, and you’ll see that life isn’t like your fairy tales. The world is a cruel place. And you’ll learn that, even if it hurts.

The more unfortunate fact that I have realize is, the quote from Ofelia’s mother is true and it is shown in the film. Apart from the mind of Ofelia, who is struggling to fulfill her mission and escape from reality, the reality becomes increasingly terrible and dark. Yes, at the end the reality become peaceful and ends by killing Vidal, but that part, Ofelia couldn’t feel or experience in the breath. I believe just as the world is threatening to burden even more if it does not rely on fantasy. But even if you rely on fantasy, you end up in reality, and it will not last forever unless you die. Where at the end of the film, Ofelia died tragically but ended with happy ending in her fantasy world. 

So, despite the fact that this film is a fantasy film, my heart is pushed and I felt depressed and sad. The reality of Ofelia really made her, actually forced her to believe in the fantasy world where it became only way to get rid of the reality. The door of fantasy, which was not stronger than I have thought (I beleived that fantasy world will really save Ofelia, bringing her to happy reality),  brought Ofelia back to cold reality. 

This film didn’t just make me to stimulate my imagination based from the genre “Fantasy”. For me it showed the harsh reality that fantasy is needed when you want to handle a bit of reality

It is a great movie and I would like to share with other people. Fantasy is not always shown as the way you imagine.

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