Critical Essay for the Movie Pans Labyrinth

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Aaron Murphy
Professor George De Falussy
Great International Films (FAR 2915.30)
Critical Essay #3
May 19, 2012
To be Reality or to be Fantasy . . . That’s How the Labyrinth is Solved History helps to provide people with a further understanding of events that transpired in the past and is also used to help determine events that could transpire in the future. Film can be used in the same way. A director can choose for his movie to depict factual events in the past in order to teach his audience a moral or value to help avert events that could repeat themselves in the future. In Guillermo del Toro’s movie Pan’s Labyrinth he depicts real world that follows along with historical events and a fantasy world that encompasses ancient myths passed through generation. The film Pan’s Labyrinth shows historical relevancy in both its fantasy and real worlds, demonstrates the superiority of men over women through the creation of a patriarchal society, and contains amplified amounts of imagery and symbolism.

Guillermo del Toro’s film Pan’s Labyrinth alternates between a fantasy world based off the ancient myth of Cronus and a real world based on Spain during the late 1930’s. Between 1936 and 1939 the people of Spain lead a revolt against the Republic government of Spain through a series of battles with the nationalists (who were supported by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany) (Spanish Civil War (Spanish History): Introduction." Encyclopedia Britannica Online). In 1934 military General Francisco Franco led troops to suppress a workers revolt. Upon his succession he gained popularity enough so that on October 1, 1936 he was named head of state and set up a socialist government in 1939 by declaring himself dictator (Spanish Civil War (Spanish History): Introduction." Encyclopedia Britannica Online). This historical event and character parallels that of General Vidal and the Guerilla attacks on the stronghold. Set in 1944, the battle scenes and guerilla warfare that transpire through out the duration of the film is the result to the aftermath of the war. In the film General Vidal represents fascism and dictator Francisco Franco. In the movie, right from the beginning the viewer witnesses, Ophelia the child heroin, shun away from her stepfather General Vidal. Instead Ophelia creates a world of fantasy that is centered on the ancient myth of Cronus. Even though Cronus was a myth, a clinical psychologist was able to develop a theory, in a movie review this theory is explained (Martinez). The theory is known as the “Cronus Complex”, which states that since Cronus did not swallow his children with a murderous intent but rather to inhibit their independence and force his children to be a part of him (Martinez). The ideas present in “Cronus Complex” can be used to explain sagas of ancestries to the thrown of a patriarchal society, which very similarly parallels that of a nation that is declared Fascist.

By definition Fascism is a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a doctoral leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition (Fascism). According to this definition the movie is correctly portraying a fascist government and uses General Vidal as a patriarchal figure. A further analysis of General Vidal’s character would leave one to believe his has acquired “Cronus Complex”. In a scene, right in front of his sedated wife General Vidal states, “If you have to choose…save the baby. That boy will bear my name and my father’s name.” Later on in the movie at the dinner party General Vidal reveals to the audience that his dad was an abusive, military man who was violent. In a movie review the writer says, “Vidal is the son of a father whose values were passed on to him. In “swallowing” or “consuming” his children, Cronus tries to make them part of himself. In turn, Vidal needs to...
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