“May you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high His love really is.”
I tried to find a reflection on Pan’s Labyrinth that fit my read of the movie. Perhaps such a piece does not exist, because I couldn’t find one quickly. So here’s my take, as quickly as I can manage.
If you don’t want the plot spoiled, watch Pan’s Labyrinth asap. I hope you won’t regret it.
People say fairy tales aren’t real, and “true” stories are. But I say, a good story, even a surreal fantasy like Pan’s Labyrinth, tells more truth more clearly than the tangle of our day to day events.
They also say that fiction is escapist, and non-fiction is realistic. I suppose bad fiction might amount to so much, just a glittering distraction, or worse, utter lies.
But it is also possible to misinterpret non-fiction events and ideas. For example, how do you answer for yourself questions like, “why did this happen?” “what kind of person am I?” “where is life going?” I believe there is a wrong way to answer such questions. Wrong answers to these questions lead us to believe in a dark, twisted fantasy. While we cower or trudge along in the shadows, reality is lovely and grand, like a sunrise we keep sleeping through.
I’m constantly falling for that twisted fantasy. I believe there’s no point. I believe I am nothing, and will always be nothing. Life seems like a stale, intolerable grind.
Pan’s Labyrinth is one fairy tale that helps me see what a lie I’ve fallen for:
After Ofelia suffers trauma after trauma, and seemingly blows her only chance of regaining her true identity as Princess Moanna–the underworld King’s daughter–she finds herself once again in an awful predicament.
The Faun lets her attempt to prove her royalty one last time, but at a grisly price. He sends her to the center of the labyrinth with her baby brother and tells her she must sacrifice the blood of an innocent. A couple drops from her infant sibling will do.
As many have done throughout this tale, Ofelia disobeys. She refuses to harm her brother even a little bit. This selfless act proves to everyone that she is indeed Princess Moanna.
The King has succeeded in bringing his long-lost daughter home.
Suddenly, the horrors of Ofelia’s post-war life, and her personal failings and sufferings are finally over. All her wrongs are forgiven and forgotten. Dressed in regal red, Princess Moanna beholds in wonder her family and her throne.
Seems too good to be actually true. Seems like the kind of thing that only happens in fairy tales. And sure, when it comes to the particulars (like fauns and magic stones and mandrake babies in milk), I’m not saying those things are real.
But you can read for yourself:
- There really is a King who is kind and good.
- A King in a world both beyond and within our own.
- A King of kings, who decrees disobedience to the dark powers that be.
- A King who is calling out to His lost and suffering sons and daughters, and bringing them home.
The truth is more fantastic than we could’ve imagined.