The Use of Symbolism in "Pan's Labyrinth" by Guillermo del Toro
Pan's Labyrinth is a dark fantasy film of 2006 by Guillermo del Toro. As a student, watching this film really have been a new taste to my preference and as I dug deeper and see through the details of this movie, I noticed few linings and symbolisms that we should have kept an eye on as we watch this interesting piece.
First hidden symbol that I have found is when Ofelia and her mother, Carmen were lying down on the bed as her child that she's having is 'acting up' inside her womb. Carmen requested Ofelia to tell his brother one of her fairytales. Then she narrated a story about this specific Blue Rose wherein if someone touches it, will become immortal, yet no one can because of the poisonous thorns surrounding it. This Blue Rose symbolizes Ofelia. Blue is the pigment used for this flower to emphasize Ofelia's calm, curious, expansive, and innocent mind. This color represents Ofelia the best; yet this positivity is contradicted by a symbol which are the thorns surrounding the beautiful rose. It symbolizes hardship, trials, and obstacles that she will be facing in the 'world' of humans.
The second symbol that have caught my attention is Ofelia offering her left hand to Captain Vidal. From the very beginning of the film, Ofelia showed her disapproval of Captain Vidal as his step-father and in this scene, Ofelia introduced herself by offering her left hand which is actually a very disrespectful gesture in Western countries, just like Spain. This gesture showed Ofelia's grave disapproval of her step-father and this move showed her disrespect to the said man.
The third symbol is Ofelia's green pinafore dress that her mother gave her. This is what she wore when she went to her first task in the fig tree. This dress symbolized so many things as well and honestly speaking, showed resemblance to a very popular character in history. Ofelia's mother made the pinafore dress for her to wear and had appreciated it. Carmen convinced her to be in the dress as she would look exactly like a princess while in it. The dress made her look like Alice in Wonderland. Alice, is a very good example of a young girl who wanders out of curiosity and innocence, and just like Alice, Ofelia had been in an adventure out of her curiosity and her dream to become a princess. This green pinafore dress is not only symbolizing Ofelia's innocence and curiosity. The color of it caught my eye as well. Green is a color of safety, harmony, freshness, life, and fertility. And as Ofelia went closer to the fig tree, she removed this clothing and went inside the tree meaning, she had lost something very important that time. Maybe it's something about safety and something about life and fertility. Well, here starts the conflict and here starts when my eyes were just so opened to a realization of something. Elder people believed in spirit animals, specifically in Japanese culture. They believed that Frogs or Toads are the spirit animal for cleansing, fertility, and sperm.
And as further this show goes, it becomes so vague enough to see the true meaning of Ofelia coming inside the fig tree wherein this fig tree symbolized for something deep as well. Of all the trees, why is fig tree used? Fig tree in the Bible was used by Adam and Eve to cover up themselves because they realized that they were naked. Isn’t that a huge revelation? A girl was used to wear a green, innocent dress and a toad inside a fig tree. Meaning, that little girl, Ofelia, had lost her virginity since she removed that very innocent green pinafore dress outside, then went inside the fig tree, and saw the toad which symbolizes fertility and sperm. It became so vague and so obvious that this part of the story tells the viewers about sex and losing ones virginity.
The next symbolism was Ofelia’s shiny red shoes when she arrived in the underworld. This part of Ofelia’s clothing was linked to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale, The Red Shoes. It’s about a little girl named Karen who had this pitiful red shoes that she wore forever. Until her mother died, and she have been adopted by a rich old lady who bought her a new pair of red exquisite shoes that she wore in her everyday adventure. What I’m trying to say is Ofelia had the perfect pair of shoes when she went to the underworld just like what happened to Karen in her own story. Ofelia never had this pair of shoes when she was in Vidal’s hands and when she had lived her life in the human world, and crossed the portal, there she was, wearing her bright red shoes.
The last symbolism that I have found out is the Red Rose on Ofelia’s dress when was already in the underworld. I have noticed that this Rose also linked to Beauty and the Beast’s rose that also meant life but in the opposite manner. While in Ofelia’s story, the Red Rose without thorns on its stem symbolized a new life for Ofelia in the underworld, without any trials, troubles, and more obstacles that she will be facing. It was all about her, growing and blooming after what she had gone through the world of humans.
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