Dr. Deveny’s lecture about Pan’s Labyrinth and its relation to fairy tales was unique in its relevance to the oral tradition. Pan’s Labyrinth is a very modern film, relating the intersection of a girl’s life during the Spanish revolution and a girl’s journey to reclaim her family in a mystical land. Whereas most fairy tales are relatively general, making them more easily relatable to the people of the country of the tale, Pan’s Labyrinth deals with a very specific experience. However, many themes present in fairy tales are also represented in the movie. For instance, the protagonist of both strands of the film faces a journey interwoven between both worlds. As we discussed in class, most of Propp’s functions are fulfilled. Although we have discussed Propp’s functions in a general sense before, this was the first time we went through step by step and discussed the various scenes that could potentially satisfy each function’s description. Although in previous discussions of Propp’s functions I have had in my other fairy tale class, the order of the functions was significant, Deveny deviated from this thought and simply discussed the aptitude of a scene to serve as a function regardless of its placement in the tale. Some examples of the functions and their corresponding scenes are as follows:
· Absention – where one of the members absents himself from home – occurs in the introduction of the movie when it is described (in subtitles) how the princess left the fairy world for the modern world and died. She not only physically leaves her family and home, but she leaves earth and life as well. An alternative to this scene would be as the family arrives at the country home and Ofelia walks off a ways from the family. This represents her emotional distancing from her step-father and could serve as the absention function.
· Interdiction occurs when Mercedes specifically tells Ofelia to not enter the old labyrinth, and of course the interdiction violated occurs when Ofelia walks into the labyrinth and discovers the faun.
· Trickery – the villain attempts to deceive his victim in order to take possession of him or his belongings – occurs in the scene where Captain Videl asks Mercedes to go to the barn, and as she walks away, reminds her he has the only key, alluding to his knowledge of her betrayal and deliverance of a copy of the key to the rebel forces. Videl tricks Mercedes into attempting to run and through that revealing Ofelia’s complicity in the rebellion.
· Victory – the villain is defeated – occurs both when Ofelia escapes from the pale man in the mystical world and when Captain Videl is shot and killed by the rebels.
There are several more functions throughout the movie besides those listed here. These functions were skillfully employed to unite the fairy tale nature of the plot with the realistic account of the Franco-era tragedy. Both strands of the story are necessary for the protagonist to learn the moral in the end (as morals are usually highlighted during the conclusion of fairy tales) and to be able to move on with her improved life. There are several possible morals, including that some things require great sacrifice or are worth dying for and also that even grievous mistakes can be forgiven. Princess Moanna is forgiven for leaving the fairy tale world and is lovingly accepted back to her family. Ofelia is given another chance by the faun after she disobeys him, eating grapes which resulted in two fairies dying. Although many fairy tales contain the mystical aspect that pervades Pan’s Labyrinth, none that we have read so far separate and re-intertwine reality with fantasy. It remains a mystery even at the end as to what is real, imagined, or simply meant to confuse and addle the brains of avid watchers.