The Horror in Pan’s Labyrinth: Beneath the Rhetoric of Hope and Fear

  • Laura Hubner


Focusing on Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006), this chapter explores the interweaving of a fantasy world of monsters, gothic ambiguities and fairytale tasks, faced by the heroine, Ofelia, with a ‘real’ world representing her stepfather’s brutality, pertaining to horrors endured after the Spanish Civil War, and specifically referring to the pervasive violence of Francisco Franco’s regime. Fairytale structures, roles and narratives of the ‘real’ world help to universalize the historically specific, while the elasticity of the fantasy world enables unspeakable subject matter to be addressed. Gothic elements allude to confusions that contributed to Francoist dictatorship, advocating disobedience in the face of adversity. Ambivalences remain at the film’s end; hope rests alongside extreme pain, terror, horror and real-life atrocities that never finally fade.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Media and Film StudiesUniversity of WinchesterWinchesterUK

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