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Friday, 30 May 2014 11:17

Art and Politics in Latin America Featured

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Art and Politics in Latin America

Pan Labyrinth is a chilling and fanciful story that is based against the fascist regime of rural Spain of 1944 (Pan Labyrinth. com, 2013). This is a story about Ofelia a twelve year old girl who is lonely and dreamy. Guillermo Del Toro’s in this film presents the society’s fear as we see in the life of Ofelia. Ofelia is faced with terrors in her dream world as she tries to escape and partly as a form of defiance against the violent regime of her step father. This is a film that not only shows the presence of monsters, but they also walk among humans. The main message of this film is the idea that innocence has a power that cannot be imagined by evil.

This is the underlying message that runs all through the film because Ofelia personifies the idea that there is nothing that is more powerful other than active choice to stand up by the atrocity and at the same time stay pure and uncorrupted. This essay examines the graphic and unflinching treatment of violence and innocence as presented by Del Toro in his film.The film is set in 1944. This is a time when the Spanish Civil War had come to an end five years ago (Richards, 1998). The central art image of this film is based on the ancient myth of Saturn/ Cronus of the Romans and Greeks respectively. Del Toro shows that his major inspiration of incorporating supernatural creatures in his work was through the work of Francisco de Goya, the painter.

In fact in one of the scenes, we see fairies being bitten by a Pale Man into half and gobble them. This directly relates to one of Goya’s Black Paintings, Saturn devouring his son (Loga, 1910). This painting shows god’s expression that denotes madness, violence and fear while devouring his child (Bolen, 1989).The monster in del Toro’s film is Cronus the Greek Myth who is an epitome of cruelty. The Pale Man Scene is a reflection of both Francoism and Vidal, and it forms the most cryptic and captivating reflection since it has a major symbolic aspect. Pagan and Christian elements do mingle with fantasy in the way we see Ofelia in the underworld. It is a major nightmare for Ofelia since she is filled with fear of being consumed by Cronus.

The entire Pale Man scene acts a reflection of reality of the oppressive regime under Franco (Crandall, 1984). Del Toro’s idea of depicting the image of violence was influenced by is an experience in Mexico (Del Toro, 2006).The concept of innocence is presented in the film. The child’s physical and emotional needs are in collision with Cronus Complex. A child has the right to be taken care of as part of the human experience. Lack of the basic nurture means that a child is lost in family demands, by providing care instead of being cared. Ofelia in Pan’s Labyrinth is the caretaker of her mother who sick and frail. This scene reveals a shocking scenario especially when she has to take care of her mother who is hemorrhaging. Her mother only whispers “help me” as she is covered in a pool of blood.

The film presents horrors as we see Ofelia being a little girl escaping the violence and horrors of war. In one, scene, we see Vidal is enjoying himself as he shoots the heads of some rebels. We also view clandestine activities of a housekeeper working for Vidal as she informs the rebels about Vidal’s plans and whereabouts. The world that Ofelia lives in is one filled with violence, hatred, corruption and fascism, but still there are hope, righteousness, forgiveness, and truth, and most essential of all being love. John King shows that Mexico in its Hollywood film presented the exotic images of danger and desire. He says “Mexico is a region where he saw dark desires run riot. It not only focus on wine, song, and women, but also treasury, death and rape (Fuentes 1985, in King: 459).


Pan Labyrinth (2013) official website. Retrieved from Http://www.wbshop.com/product/code/1000032077.do

On November 25, 2013

Fuentes (1985) Pancho Villa, the Mexican Revolution, John Reed, and Raoul Walsh (King: 459. King: 459

Crandall, J (1984) the Cronus Complex. Clinical Social works Journal. 12:2, p 108-117.

Bolen, J (1989). Gods in Everyman. San Francisco: Harper and Row.

Del Toro, G (2006). El labyrinth del fauno. Madrid: Ocho y medio.

Loga, V (1910). Francisco de Goya. Leipzig: Klinkhardt and Biemann.

Richards, M (1998) a time of Silence: Civil War and the Culture of Repression in Franco’s Spain, 1936-1945. Cambridge: Cambridge UP

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