‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is a film directed by Guillero Del Torro, depicting both the fantasy world of a child as well as the harsh fascist world in Spain 1944. This film addresses the notion of love in almost every character whether it be patriotic, parental or the simple friendly love. The film portrays that love can be of different forms and it can lead to desperate acts. As illustrated by the film, ‘patriotic love’ is the love of all citizens for a home that in their perspective is perfect for everyone.
It can make corrupt leaders to do ruthless acts as shown through the character of Captain Vidal. His love for his country, his status and his strong belief in fascism leads him to do cruel, brutal acts. As he proclaims, “I choose to be here because I want my son to be born in a new, clean Spain. ” This represents his thoughts on how fascism is the only right way of ruling. The captain’s values are that of glory, following orders without question and power. We can also see this through his forcefulness to all below him and his expectations of blinding obedience.
On the other hand, the soldiers fighting against this fascist world is also due to this ‘patriotic love’ and their strong feeling against fascism. These soldiers are truly desperate, going through hardships and several other consequences to fight for this cause. For example, the scene with the doctor and the old man with the bad leg is the scene that clearly shows this hardship through the symbolism of blood, pain and the struggle. The camera shots used in this scene, is generally medium shots, to show interaction between characters.
But several close-up shots have also been used on the leg and the expression of the patient and the doctor, again showing the struggle. The symbolism of blood is also shown throughout the film. It is shown as an act of violence or struggle and as an act of love. The colour of this fascist world is also dark and grim, signifying this desperation, aggression and struggle due to this powerful ‘patriotic love’. By doing such things Del Torro tried to show that love for one’s country can be so strong, it can lead people in the wrong direction as well.
Love for family or parental love is another powerful love shown throughout the film, also leading to desperate acts. Firstly, the captain’s love for his unborn son is so immense that he went to great lengths to get him which included saving the son instead of the mother as well as the killing of his stepdaughter, Ophelia, when she tried to run away with the baby. He even admitted to do his ruthless, harsh job because of his son. “I choose to be here because I want my son to be born in a new, clean Spain. He also wanted to carry forward the tradition that his father had done.
“The men in his battalion said that when General Vidal died on the battlefield, he smashed his watch on a rock so that his son would know the exact hour and minute of his death. So he would know how a brave man dies. ” “Tell my son what time his father died. Tell him that I… ” The close-up point of view shots on the watch that captain had, also portrayed the importance of it and showed why it was so necessary to carry the tradition.
The love shown between Ophelia and her mother was equally significant. This can be seen frequently throughout the film, for example, when the mother made a pretty dress for Ophelia to wear or when Ophelia went for her mother’s rescue or when she was sick with the baby. “Have you seen my mother? She is very beautiful,” Ophelia said to Mercedes at the beginning scenes of the film clearly depicting how much she adored her. Another act of love was when Ophelia kept the baby tree the faun gave to her, under her mother’s bed, frantically hoping to save her mother from dying.
Another similar love is also seen between Ophelia and her baby brother, especially at the end when she refuses to sacrifice his blood and also gives up the throne of the princess. “Hurry! You promised to obey me. Give me the boy! ” “No! My brother stays with me. ” “You would give up your throne for him? ” “Yes, I would. ” She gives up her dream and also braves to run away from the Captain, knowing there will be extreme consequences if she is caught. However, the strongest relationship illustrated in this film is the love between the brother and the sister, Pedro and Mercedes.
This is truly the relationship that has lead to desperate acts. Mercedes had to go and serve a Captain whom she detested from the bottom of her heart. She did this to cleverly deceive the captain and allow entrance to the storage room to all the soldiers including her brother. Her alliance with the doctor also helped cure many of the soldiers. The symbolism of blood is again shown here as an act of sacrifice as well as an act of love. Similarly, the friendly love which is seen throughout the film in many characters had lead to acts of helpfulness and hope.
The relationship between Mercedes and Ophelia was quite close and sweet. Although Mercedes is helpless at first, she tries her best to save her from her evil father, especially at the end, when the death of Ophelia’s mother had left her hopeless. This is shown several times. Firstly, she tries to run away from the captain with her, but does not succeed. Secondly, when she had finally taken advantage of the captain, she promised to kill him, if she touched Ophelia. “Don’t you dare touch the girl. You won’t be the first pig I’ve gutted.
The lullaby sang by Mercedes in the film is used allegorically to portray the sign of love and was also sung at the end when Ophelia dies. By doing this del Torro shows that love is never ending and can never be lost once truly loved by someone. There is also an extremely close and friendly relationship between the doctor and Mercedes. The doctor’s helpfulness towards the soldiers is a result of this relationship. However, this relationship and helpfulness cost the doctor’s life when the captain found out. Lastly, the relationship of Ophelia and the fairy is also quite strong.
The fairy in the form of a bug followed her to camp. It also showed her dream and pathway to the fantasy world which she desperately needed in order to escape the harsh, unbearable real world. Therefore, love can be of several forms. Love is the wonderful and may be the best gift of life many a times but at times, this can be blind as well. One time this can give ones the utmost joy, at the other the severest of pain. Over the ages, the greatest literatures often delineated the best feeling [or enjoyment] of a true love in the form of painful sacrifice or detachment.
The beauty of love blossoms through the sorrow – ‘our sweetest songs are those tells us the saddest tales’! On the other hand, the age old epics often describe the blindest aspects of love in different forms. As the epics are the reflection of real life, we quite often see the happening in reality in the form of a parental love or a platonic relationship or an affection rivalry or a patriotic belief [fanaticism] ended in a tragedy that may not be explained by common sense. This proves the universal nature of love, both in its blunt affection and blindness. As we see, the movie ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ cannot be an exception.