‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ ‘Breaking the Disney Spell – Grimm, Propp and Pan’ An investigation of Genre and Narrative
“Pan’s Labyrinth” is a bloody, beautiful fairy tale for adults • MIKE RUSSELLCulturepulp
Many, many years ago, in a sad, far away land, there was an enormous mountain made of rough, black stone. At sunset, on top of that mountain, a magic rose blossomed every night that made whoever plucked it immortal. But no one dared go near it because its thorns were full of poison. Men talked amongst themselves about their fear of death, and pain, but never about the promise of eternal life. And every day, the rose wilted, unable to bequeath its gift to anyone…forgotten and lost at the top of that cold, dark mountain, forever alone, until the end of time.” —From Pan’s Labyrinth
Genre and Narrative • The idea of the fairytale evident within Pan’s Labyrinth will feature when discussing CATEGORIES, when we speak of the film’s hybrid genre and in addition this will be evident when we discuss the concept of NARRATIVE, when we think about structure and conventions.
Genre • Genre is the way in which a film can be classified as a particular type of film, such as Horror, Gothic, Adventure etc. • This is determined by codes and conventions known to be inherent in certain genres. For example, a key convention of horror is the monster figure etc. • When a film shares conventions from various genres, it is called a hybrid genre. This is how Pan’s Labyrinth can be categorised, as it shares codes and conventions apparent in more than one genre.
Narrative • is the structure that has been adopted by a media text in order to tell the story or deliver the message and the conventions that are adhered to. • It is important to consider; Propps’s character roles, Todorov’s Equilibrium Theory and also that of Claude Levi-Strauss Binary Oppositions
Del Toro and Fairytales… • “I have been fascinated by fairy tales and the mechanics at work in them since my early childhood” • “ I have enjoyed reading the original versions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and have always found that the form itself lends easily to deeply disturbing images.”
“Dark, twisted and beautiful…a masterpiece” • “Exquisite and enchanting. It’s not to be missed.”
Why Del Toro’s interest in fairytales? What do they do? Are they merely a means of entertainment/fun? • Look at the examples of common fairytales that we know from our own Disney coloured childhood and try to establish what they have in common. • Now look at the synopsis and imagery of the illustrators and writers of ‘real’ traditional fairytales, such as the Brothers Grimm and see if you can spot the differences and similarities?
Fairy Tale Re-cap • Looking at the function of fairy tales helps us to understand __________ and _________ in Del Toro’s film. • Pan’s Labyrinth is linked to the genre through its use of elements, archetypes and motifs.
Fairy Tales: • Offer the protagonist… • Allows them to gain a sense of… • Make up part of the human desire to… • Are often in sharp contrast to the _______ world. • Often used to confront the harsh truth of the _____ world. • Are symbolic of _________ imagination.
Pan’s Labyrinth differs from the conventional fairy tale’s acceptance of magic within the fantasy world, and magical realism’s incorporation of magic into the real world. • Pan’s Labyrinth fails to confirm whether the supernatural events are actually happening or simply a product of the young Ofelia’s imagination. This notion is reinforced by the ambiguous ending.
Fantasy and the Fairytale – Genre • Genre: fantasy –realism (a subtext of the fantasy genre) where the main protagonist seems to inhabit two separate worlds.
Del Toro… “I’ve always preferred genres to be mixed. Like combining horror with a historical narrative, for example. For me, Pan’s Labyrinth is therefore a drama rooted in the context of war, with fairytale and mythological elements grafted on.” “The whole idea fro the movie was to have a shocking contrast between fantasy and the violence of the real world.” • “The one thing that alchemy understands and the fairy tale lore understands is that you need the vile matter for magic to flourish…so, when people sanitize fairy tales and homogenize them, they become completely uninteresting for me.”
Fantasy and the Fairytale Vladimir Propp’s character roles. • Vladimir Propp developed a character theory for studying media texts and productions, which indicates that there were 8 broad character types in the 100 tales he analysed, which could be applied to other media: • Thevillain (struggles against the hero) • The heroor victim/seeker hero, reacts to the donor, weds the princess. • Thedonor(prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object) • The (magical) helper(helps the hero in the quest) • Theprincess(person the hero marries, often sought for during the narrative) • Thedispatcher (character who makes the lack known and sends the hero off) • The False hero (takes credit for the hero’s actions and tries to marry the princess) • Her father (usually dies during or before the film/book) • One character can play more than one part in the narrative.
The Donor… • In fairy tales, a fairy godmother is a fairy with magical powers who acts as a mentor or parent to someone, in the role that an actual godparent was expected to play in many societies. • Many other supernatural patrons feature in fairy tales; these include various kinds of animals and the spirit of a dead mother. In the Grimm Brothers' variant of Cinderella, Aschenputtel is aided not by her fairy godmother but by her dead mother. • The donor provides the hero with an agent (often magical) which eventually enables the story’s resolution.
The Dispatcher • Sends the hero off on their adventures.
The False Hero • The false hero pretends to have accomplished what the hero has accomplished.
Vladimir Propp’s Fairy Tale Functions – Narrative • As set out by Propp and his investigation into many Fairy Tales and their form, Propp discovered 31 fairy tale functions as those outlined in the hand-out. • We will use this as we watch Pan’s Labyrinth to evaluate the success of this theory in relation to the film.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-dHklh31iE • Watch Del Toro’s discussion about his sketches and see if you can notes any elements of fairy tale influences.
Stories (passed down through the generations by word of mouth, in books or in films) are society’s way of making sense of our world and establishing the difference between right and wrong/ good and evil.
Del Toro to The Guardian: "Ofelia is a princess who forgot who she was and where she came from, who progresses through the labyrinth to emerge as a promise that gives children the chance never to know the name of their father -- the fascist. It's a parable."
Del Toro… • To me, the frog eating the tree from within represents the rich, you know? To me, the faceless guy that eats the children and, perversely, has an abundance of riches can represent the fascist or the church. And the faun is a neutral force that doesn't care if Ofelia succeeds or fails. He's just an observer -- and a willing participant who is not married to outcome.And I think each of the little creatures is a transitional guide for the girl. I think her facing these challenges is important, in that she's dealing with her own bravery and her own resolve. People say to me, "But she fails two of the challenges!" And I say, "Yeah -- because they are only decoys." To me, the faun is also the Pale Man -- a trickster who takes forms to test the girl. And the real test is not whether she gets the knife or she gets the key. The real test is: How does she respond to temptation?
Q. But the Hero's Journey is a different thing here. • The Hero's Journey in many a fairy tale is actually an oblique one: You are not testing about getting the actual prize; you are tested about your attitude about getting the prize.I am a father of two, and so I see everything from "Barnyard" to "Cars." And I really loved the ending that Lasseter did in "Cars" -- because I love the fact that the little car doesn't win, and yet there's victory. I really found it profoundly educational and profoundly moving.Because the quest is not about the prize; it's about how you go through it. I really believe this. I really believe winning is only half the pleasure. And I say this having gone through the Cannes Film Festival with "Pan's Labyrinth" and not winning the Palme d'Or. But I tell you: I am incredibly happy about having been there. And what I learned about me, and what I learned about the film, and what I learned about the world in going there? That's the prize.And I think that’s the point of the movie. If you noticed, in the movie, when she reunites at the end with the faun and the rest of the magical world, the fairies that the Pale Man ate are there -- meaning they were not really eaten. It's like a con game. It works by misdirection. The whole bunch of tests are misdirection. And that’s verbalized in the movie by the king, who says, "You have spilled your blood rather than that of an innocent. That is the last test -- and the most important." If she had turned in the baby, she would have failed.
Del Toro • ‘I tried to reconnect with the perversity and very sexual content of his work. In fairy tales, all stories are either about the return to the womb (heaven, home) or wandering out into the world and facing your own dragon. We are all children wandering through our own fable’ (Press notes).
Conforming to Convention • The world that Ofelia inhabits is a familiar one, in which she meets characters that set her tasks that she must complete.