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.