Hermeneutic Interpretation of Pan’s Labyrinth Essay Example
The term hermeneutics is an old notion that was derived from Greek Myth and religion. It is believed to have come from ancient Greek's messenger, Hermes. He was the messenger for the Greek gods and basically had the task of mediating information from the gods to the people (Bleicher 1980: 12). The term itself has since developed and evolved quite a lot into its own autonomous philosophy.
Hermeneutics (2008) explains that it exists as the study of understanding and interpreting of texts. These texts referred in the past exclusively to religious and biblical content but in the present it refers to anything from literature to film. The latter is my main concern in this essay as I will interpret a film hermeneutically and compare it to the author's view as well as alternative interpretations from other indivi...
duals.The film I felt appropriate to interpret is Guillermo Del Toro's El Laberinto Del Fauno.
It has been internationally translated to Pan's Labyrinth to assist with English-speaking individuals. This has brought up some conflict because of what the word Pan refers to in Greek myth (Pan's Labyrinth: 2008). This does have a large influence on someone's prejudgment of the film if one is aware of these citations. The Greek god Pan is largely admired by numerous religions including the Pagans because of his relationship with nature. He also was the god fertility and had an immense sex drive.
The film was released in 2006 and won 3 Oscars and more than 60 other awards around the world. (El Laberinto Del Fauno: 2008)Guillermo Del Toro is an award winning Mexican director who was born in 1964. He grew up i
Mexico and was very interested in the fantastical side of life. He said that when you have the intuition that there is something which is there, but out of the reach of your physical world, art and religion are the only means to get to it. (Guillermo Del Toro: 2008) This champions his film-making style as most his films have a fantastical core which they are developed around.
He is an interesting director or Hollywood figure when one looks at his choice of film he prefers to make. He started off with a sci-fi fantasy film called Cronos and continued in this sense with films such as The Devil's Backbone as well as El Laberinto Del Fauno.What is intriguing is his decisions to direct films like Mimic, Blade 2 and Hellboy. Obviously these films are more centered on the mainstream entertainment side of Hollywood where El Laberinto Del Fauno and The Devil's Backbone is done in a more artistic realm.
I also feel that these three works, Cronos, The Devil's Backbone and El Laberinto Del Fauno is done at a much more personal level than the others. They are all done in Spanish and most of them are shot in Mexico or Spain. Del Toro explains that he started working on El Laberinto Del Fauno on a conceptual level in 1992. The end product I believe is a really well crafted fairy tale done in a very modernist manner.The film is set against the backdrop of the post-Civil War in Spain in 1944.
There are two stories streaming through the film and later coincide or overlap. The story is about the rebels that fought against
the fascist troops and the other revolves around a young and imaginative girl named Ofelia. She travels with her pregnant mother to the country to meet and live with her stepfather. Her stepfather is a war general opposed against the rebels. He is a cruel and sadistic character and ties in the two stories as he acts as the notion of evil in both storylines.On her trip Ofelia triggers her imaginative mind and this enables her to see a different reality.
She later on meets a fairy who guides her to the center of a maze or labyrinth where they meet a magical faun. He tells her that she is actually an immortal princess from a kingdom in the underground. He then informs her that her father is waiting for her but before she can retain her throne as princess she needs to complete three tasks to prove her worthy. As she deals with all her ordeals including her tasks, her sick mother and her sadistic stepfather the rebels also face a few challenges that later spurs them on to confront the general and his men.
This all builds up to a final violent night as the rebels finally defeat the general after he kills Ofelia. Through her death she is reunited with her parents and is given back her role as princes.Arnold ; Fischer (1994: 57) explains that a dialogical community shares a [pre-]understanding mediated through language. The dialogue is created when the author comes in contact with the reader through a text using language. This language can be seen in numerous forms such as visual images, symbolism and verbal language in the sense
of any communication.
This dialogue is believed to be represented in the submission of a manuscript or text and successive iterations of the reader and author responses until consensus is achieved. (Arnold ; Fischer 1994: 57)For me, the main question asked in the film is made out of a lot of themes and subsidiary themes that exists iteratively in the film. In the events we see people being confronted with authority and their fears. They are forced to make decisions that are a lot of the time uncomfortable for them. Because there is a strong authoritative force within the story the people are sometimes unwillingly or forcefully strained to do something. This then leads to the theme of obedience and disobedience which the movie asks if it is sometimes right to disobey.
We see the elements of obedience and disobedience in Ofelia's mother, the doctor, Mercedes, the rebels and Ofelia herself. Some choose to obey and others to disobey. This theme for me strengthens the main question that the movie reveals in the dialogical process which is the progression of people and their character.We see Ofelia being a juvenile individual at the start of the movie.
She is a child that keeps herself busy with child-like activities such as fantasy stories and her imagination. As the film progresses, Ofelia also progresses with time. The thing that is interesting about her situation is that she keeps developing and maturing into an independent state but the elements that surround her like her imagination and her storybooks stay the same. Everyone urges her to stop wasting her time with her fantasies and imagination because she is supposed to
be a big girl on the verge of becoming a woman.
The theme of disobedience comes in where she refuses to listen to them and ends up dealing with her situations using her own methods. These methods are the ones that the people find childish and immature. The question then is as follows: Is obedience, even for a child, always the best thing to do for their progression of character or their individuality and personality?The film starts of in a time where Spain was at war. It was a war between rebels and fascists.
Fascism is a concept believed to support anti-individualism and the state which is ultimately an authoritative entity. (Fascism: 2008) This already strengthens the question posed by the film. It is a fight for freedom and individualism which is similar to Ofelia's situation as she challenges it which discomforts her and ultimately reduces her essence and beauty which is her imagination and her ability to deal with issues through this process of fantasy.The exposition then shows a scene where Ofelia rides with her mother, Carmen in a car to Captain Vidal. Carmen is to marry him and both, Ofelia and Carmen will stay with him at his home. For this trip Ofelia brought a lot of fantasy books with her which one could believe comforts her when she needs it.
Obviously the new surroundings will be different for her and when she feels discomfort she will find solace in her reading. This for her is a major part of her life and how she deals with the harsh reality. Her mother then tells her that it is nonsense and that she is
too old for it. An important thing then happens to her as her mother starts showing illness from her pregnancy. She walks away and observes her mother in her state but she seams to be in another world. She then makes the important decision to stick to her actions and character by seeing her reality in a different light.
The moment she inserts an old statue's eye back into place she immediately sees a fairy-type creature. This shows us her disobedience towards her mother's advice.When the two arrive at the Captain's place we see how different Ofelia is from her mother. Carmen is advised by the Captain to use a wheelchair for moving around. Carmen at first rejects this notion because she feels it is unnecessary but then obeys the Captains order-like suggestion. Ofelia immediately disobeys the Captain as she offers her left hand to greet him.
This for him is seen as a sign of disrespect. This scene just shows the differentiation in character between Ofelia and her mother. Ofelia then sees the fairy again and throws her books away following it into the woods. Mercedes, a figure that will become very important in her life brings her books back to her as she fetches her to come back to the cottage. This shows how Mercedes almost reinforces Ofelia's confiding in fantasy and imagination as she supports her actions.The two other figures that play a big role in the theme of disobedience are the Doctor and Mercedes.
Both of their attitudes reflect Ofelia's attitudes towards her situation and Captain Vidal. The Doctor bluntly refuses Vidal's opinion and his attitude shows his disobedience towards him.
The scene where he confronts Vidal about bringing the sick Carmen to him strengthens this notion. He openly disobeys him when he decides to kill Vidal's rebel prisoner to stop his pain and him from talking.
He is then killed shortly after because of his involvement with the rebels. Mercedes also disobeys Vidal but in a more sinister manner. She works for him and serves him but also does the same for the rebels, one of which is her brother. She secretly disobeys him and in the end reveals herself and her disobedience.
The most important form of obedience is Ofelia's confiding in her own thoughts and imagination. Later she follows the fairy again into the labyrinth where she meets the faun. He then gives her a few tasks which she obeys mostly. This is a figment of her imagination which helps her become the person she admires to be. She dreams of being a happy princess living with her father and mother.
Before she can achieve this happiness she is tested to prove her worthiness. She cuts out the harshness of reality and substitutes it for elements of her imagination. Through this way she learns on her own and progresses into a mature character. This is reflected in the image of a labyrinth where one need to follow instinct to progress in the ultimate purpose of a labyrinth which is to find its exodus.The question is posed through various elements that are supportive and unsupportive of Ofelia. Vidal and Carmen both try to get Ofelia to discard her fantasy but Mercedes spurs her on saying that she used to do it also.
This is where
the voice of the author shines through as he shows his opinion towards this issue. On the one hand, Vidal has become a hard and almost evil individual. Carmen has weakened in her physical but also mental state. Her character has weakened because of the events that occurred which she chooses to follow.
Both of them die in the end. Mercedes is a reflection of what Ofelia would become if she is given her freedom and individuality. She is a strong character fighting for what she feels is right and defeating her rival at the end. Ofelia is at the verge of choosing and her decision is clear in the end.The progression of her character is seen in various intervals but a significant one is where her mother confronts her for wandering away from the cottage when the Captain hosted a dinner party. Carmen tells Ofelia that she disappointed her but Vidal even more.
Ofelia's reaction is almost sinister in the sense as she smiles out of spite and happiness. This shows that she has confidence in her actions and decisions. Her final character attribute is seen as the faun asks her to sacrifice her baby brother. She sacrifices herself before her brother which concludes her fate of becoming the person she wants to be.
- Trojan War essays
- Apollo essays
- Iliad essays
- Achilles essays
- Odysseus essays
- Oedipus essays
- Hercules essays
- Myths essays
- Zeus essays
- Gilgamesh essays
- Puritans essays
- Afterlife essays
- Buddhism essays
- Christianity essays
- Deism essays
- Faith essays
- God essays
- Hinduism essays
- Islam essays
- Jews essays
- Judaism essays
- Monotheism essays
- New Testament essays
- Ritual essays
- Sin essays
- Soul essays
- Theology essays
- Confession essays
- Devil essays
- Miracle essays
- Monk essays
- Revelation essays
- Atheism essays
- Immortality essays
- Jainism essays
- Sinners essays
- Bible essays
- Old Testament essays
- Salvation essays
- Temple essays
- Taoism essays
- Pilgrimage essays
- Freedom Of Religion essays
- Existence of God essays
- Christian Worldview essays
- Cosmological Argument essays
- Gautama Buddha essays
- Karma essays
- Buddha essays
- Baptism essays