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Fairly Real Tales

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Fairly Real Tales
Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth is about the power of fairy tales. As del Toro discusses, for Ofelia, fantasy compensates for the horrors of reality. Throughout the film, she struggles to reconcile her two worlds: the real and the imaginary. Furthermore, her imaginary world can be seen as one in which she has the agency that she is denied in the real world. Ultimately, Ofelia’s fairy tale world offers her insight into the real world and salvation from the horrors of the real world.
In an interview, Ethan Alter asked Guillermo del Toro whether Ofelia’s fantasy world is real or all in her mind. He answered that it’s true: “There’s a very clear instance in the movie where there is no other explanation” (Ethan 14). He says that “in my mind, the movie tries to say that if you don’t know where to look, you won’t see these creatures. Like Vidal—he’s unable to see them” (Ethan 14). However, he does say that other viewers may see the film in different ways: “there are two kinds of audiences for this movie: one that will believe it’s real and the other that will think it’s imaginary. For me, the movie is like a Rorschach test. It defines you as a glass-half-empty or glass-half-full person. Which is fine, I like the idea of that being your choice” (Ethan 14). Del Toro’s comments prove that Pan’s Labyrinth attempts to show a world in which fairy tales offer insight into reality and a means of saving oneself from its daily horrors.

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