Genre Analysis of Pan’s Labyrinth

Pan’s Labyrinth is considered a hybrid or sub genre since it consists of themes of war, drama and dark fantasy. However it is predominantly categorised as a fantasy film since it follows numerous elements that are often related to that genre.

Similarities to the fantasy genre

The narrative itself is intertwined with magic and the idea of mythical creatures who send Ofelia on a quest to prove that she is worthy.

At the end, after Ofelia has died and successfully completed her quest through her selfless act, she is transported to a prosperous realm. The idea of a realm is an extremely common theme which is used repeatedly in the fantasy genre.

The idea of a hero or heroine being sent on a quest/journey is very conventional in the fantasy genre. The protagonist is often burdened by a responsibility or set of objectives that they must complete in order to resolve the main conflict of the narrative which ultimately fulfills their purpose.

The hero is often destined for greatness. For example, in Pan’s Labyrinth, Ofelia is destined to rule over the magical realm where her father welcomes her at the end of the movie.

Differences to the fantasy genre

Pan’s Labyrinth follows a much darker and gruesome narrative than most films in the fantasy genre, such as The Chronicles Of Narnia and The Wizard Of Oz. Both of these films follow a  reasonable and upbeat narrative in which the hero/heroine defeats the antagonist and has a happy ending. For example, the ideas of facisim, war and death are explored in Pan’s labyrinth which is unusual in the fantasy genre. 

Pan’s labyrinth is set in the real world during a real period in time. This is unusual since most fantasy films are set in fictitious locations. For example Peter Pan was set in Neverland which is an imaginary setting. 



Genre Poster

According to Altman’s theory on genre; ‘Genre is similarity and difference’.

The repertoire of elements are key elements of a film that are consistently repeated throughout a genre. Each genre has its own repertoire of elements which communicates to an audience what genre of film they are watching.

These include:

 Iconography ( Masks, blood, silhouettes, shadows, ect)

Props ( Guns, daggers, blood, candles, cloaks, ect)

Style ( Dark, shadowy, low key lighting, eerie music, ect)

Narrative ( Being trapped, being chased, supernatural, ect)

Settings ( Haunted house, castle, forest, anywhere dark, ect)

Characters ( Killers, monsters, demons, devils, ect)

Themes ( Death, fear, gore, traps, isolation, ect)

Most of these features are present in my poster which communicates that my poster belongs to the horror genre.




Mise-en-scene in The Captain’s Feast

The Captain’s feast is an important scene when it comes to understanding the facist and  power hungry views that society held in rural Spain during the 1940’s. The feast is attended by a wide variety of people who all have one thing in common. Wealth.  All of the guests prove to be patronising and greedy for power and money. In this scene, Del Toro uses mise en scene to communicate meaning. During this task, I focused on the representation of the priest and the two sisters.


The priest’s ornate cross connotes that he is an important and powerful character. It also suggests that he is wealthy and has a gluttonous attitude. This is confirmed during the feast scene when he rudely states that he doesn’t believe that there will be enough food for everyone.

The two sisters are wearing expensive jewelry, including pearls. This articulates that they have wealth which gives them power and status above most less wealthy people.

Lighting and Colour

The limited lighting in this scene suggests that the film was set in a time before electricity was invented or widely used. However, the light that is provided is from ornate candles which once again fortifies the idea of wealth and importance of the people around the table.


The priest represents the idea that he is gluttonous when he states that he does not think there is enough food for everyone at the table. This is especially shocking since the film is set in 1944 during the war, when rationing is seriously affecting how much food people- especially the poor, can get.


Del Toro uses juxtaposition to articulate to the audience that the war did not have a huge impact on the wealthy. The priest and the sisters both hold ration cards in one hand and silver cutlery in the other. This reminds the audience that the mov9e is set during the world war when rationing was cemented in place and yet these wealthy people are having a feast. This could come across as sardonic humor.


The banquet is set in a large, spacious dining room. This implies that the captain is used to hosting parties or feasts like the one we see in the movie. This idea is supported since there is a large fireplace, since this implies that the room needs to be often heated since the Captain is used to having company.




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