Beautifully written Gav. Tonight is the dark
moon, so I would offer a song I listen to quite
often that represents it differently. It is
'Desire', by Deepak Chopra and Demi Moore.
At 08:12 PM 7/14/2007, you wrote:
>Pan's Labyrinth is a film that provokes strong
>This is because the film taps into the mythos: it
>mines a rich vein of symbolic meaning.
>The reactions that the film provokes most viscerally
>are grief and horror, and yet these are more than
>counterbalanced by something else....some subtle
>feeling of meaning, of hope, that enables us to
>reconcile the murder of the innocent with a belief in
>a fair universe, a moral order. In other words we find
>that we don't have to deny our religion or, more
>accurately, our religious feeling, even though the
>world is a cruel and stupid place.
>How does it manage this? How does it swim upstream
>against the prevailing current of modern history,
>which is the current of nihilism, of meaninglessness?
>How?- by consciously plunging back into the mythos
>that we have become unconscious of as a society. The
>film's potent symbolic imagery triggers a response, a
>resonance within the deepest levels of the psyche. Del
>Toro ensures that this resonance has the best possible
>chance of being heard by switching off the viewer's
>extraneous mental noise. This is achieved through
>shock: we are literally shocked into attention,
>undivided attention: the phenomenal 'now'.
>This awareness is pre-intellectual awareness; it is
>the awareness of the cave-man, the hunter; it is the
>awareness that created the first stories, the first
>myths; it is the awareness with which myth and all
>meaning is apprehended.
>Now the ancient language of the soul can be heard
>clearly; the language that is as old as time; older.
>The language of the land, of the sea and sky and
>stars. The first principles from which all variety
>evolves in divine concordance. It is the very fabric
>of reality itself! It is the unmanifest! - the
>progenitor, the architect, the dream, the idea. It is
>the red and gold faery-tale world of pan's labyrinth
>that bursts creatively, intelligently into the grey,
>blue world of mundane reality, through the red and
>gold womb of woman. The woman is in both worlds, she
>holds the faery-world inside her and gives it birth
>into the universe, which is to say she gives birth
>literally to the universe, for the universe only
>exists as a relationship between a soul and itself.
>The soul forgets itself as it is borne 'through the
>light' into the world and its journey from thence is
>simply a journey home. The roadmap back is a magical
>one, revealed bit by bit, step by step. It is a story
>that is conceived, written and revealed
>In this story there is a hero and this hero is
>Each of us lives a unique life, but the theme is
>always the same. Each individual life is a variation
>on a theme - one theme: ie the universe.
>What is the theme? The theme is choice. To choose to
>act from the creative centre, rather than to react
>from habit or fear.
>Choice presupposes value differentials: preferences.
>Preference is felt in the heart. To live actively,
>rather than reactively, is to be guided by one's
>heart. To choose such is to choose wisely, and
>For as Ofelia discovers, to act in accord with one's
>self can mean one pays the ultimate price in the
>mundane world: physical death. BUT physical death is
>guaranteed anyway! We can only, if we are fortunate,
>choose to die honourably or dishonourably. This is why
>the film is not simply tragic; this is why the film
>triumphs over tragedy absolutely: life only makes
>sense with death. Death is not the ultimate evil,
>terror or a proof of life's pointlessness, on the
>contrary: Death gives life its meaning! Death reminds
>us to act, to choose, because we haven't got long!
>Death relativises all morals and rules and laws - the
>knowledge of our certain death allows us to overcome
>the chains that bind us. If we don't fear death how
>can we be afraid of anything!........
> There are two (seemingly) parallel stories in the
>1.the realistic conflict drama between fascists and
>anarchists at the close of the spanish civil war
>2.the fairy tale adventure of the (tragically named)
>For the bulk of the film these stories run side by
>side and it is only as we near the end of the film
>that these currents merge and add meaning to each
>other. It is at this point that our mythos becomes
>updated, which is to say revivified.
>The conjoining factor is the child of the captain and
>Ofelia's mother. The birth of Ofelia's brother, the
>only other person that the captain cares about, unites
>the stories into one dual-layered tale: ie a myth.
>The child represents, to the captain, his own
>immortality, his own power; to Ofelia the child is of
>value in-itself. Ofelia sacrifices herself rather than
>shed the blood of her innocent brother. She disobeys
>Pan and in doing so passes the final test, which is
>the same test that the captain and the fascists fail.
>The test is the choice between obedience to others (ie
>society) or obedience to oneself, one's own heart.
>There is no moral ambiguity here, disobedience is, as
>wilde said, 'man's original virtue'. Man to be human
>- has his origin in this very act of disobedience:
>the moral force is with the anarchists and is with
>Ofelia. Though both will ultimately lose their
>battles, these losses are relative. What is absolute
>is the moral force itself, the meaning of their freely
>Up til this point - the birth of the brother - the
>film is, perhaps, metaphysically ambiguous. That is
>the nature of the fairy tale reality seems open to
>interpretation. It seems that one could take it to be
>Ofelia's own private fantasy - a means of escape from
>the horrible reality she has been thrust into.
>However, two key scenes at the close of the film
>establish the true nature of the fantasy world and its
>relation to the mundne world.
>1. Ofelia rescues her brother (in the mundane world)
>using magic chalk from the faery-world.
>2. the captain cannot see the faun when Ofelia brings
>her brother to him.
>to summarise: the faery world is real; not all can see
>it; only the pure of heart.
>del toro uses symbology and number and colour to
>further reinforce the relationship between these
>worlds. I have already mentioned the red and gold of
>the faery world and womb, and the grey blue of the
>mundane. the red and gold fire at the end symbolising
>the irruption of the faery (the moral force) into the
>mundane world, through the anarchists' attack.
>the faery world parallels the mundane, but in a
>creative context. that is the faery world continually
>creates the mundane world - and is in turn updated by
>the souls' experiences in the mundane. In the mundane
>world there is the captain at his long table,
>presiding over his dinner guests; in the faery world
>there is the pale man at a similar table, in a similar
>spot at the table, in a similar room.
>this is just one example, taken from del toro's own
>discussion of the film on the extra disc in the dvd
>set. the establishment of the ontological relationship
>between the two worlds - the eternal and the temporal
>- is what myth does; myth being the key to
>apprehending the eternal order.
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