When learning about a film, understanding the context that film the film was made in is crucial in understanding why certain things are the way that they are. There are several contexts that can go behind a films production, some of these include: the time it was made, the culture surrounding the director, the religion of the director & the artistic vision of the director.
This also applies to Pan’s Labyrinth which is a film in the fantasy and war genres. It was made in 2006 by Guillermo Del Toro, who’s a Mexican director that’s also a catholic. These elements (such as time, culture, religion, etc) play into why Pan’s Labyrinth is the way it is. Certain aspects of the film would’ve been extremely different if it was directed by someone else, for example, Del Toro refused the larger budgets from larger studios in order to keep creative control of the film and have it be as grusome as it is.
- The film has a non-linear narrative as the begining is the end.
- The film has a split narrative between Ofelia’s quest and the Civil war.
- The Faun’s introduction into the story starts the disruption and kick starts one of the main two plots of the film.
- The disequilibrium is somewhat traditional, where the heroes are at their lowest point in the film but have to rise from there. This is also the longest parts of the film.
- The exposition tells us who the characters are, where they are and what kind of world they live in.
To test our knowledge on the representation of Ofelia we had to write an essay on a key scene throughout the film and see how Ofelia was portrayed in the scene. We were peer assessed on the essays with certain details being highlighted:
Terminology – Red
Example – Green
Analysis – Light Blue
Significance – Yellow
To strenghthen my knowledge on narrative structure, I took the example of Finding Nemo and put it onto a story mountain planner. This story mountain contains five acts, being the equilibrium / exposition, disruption, disequilibrium / climax, resolution and the new equilibrium.
The film starts with the exposition that they are all living together in peace in the coral reef and where Nemo is going to school. The disruption comes through the divers that appear and how Nemo in an attempt to rebel against his father, swims up to the boat. The climax is Nemo getting taken away and Marlin, along with Dory, looking for him. The resolution is Nemo being saved from the dentist and reuniting with Marlin and the new equilibrium is established. In this new equilibrium Marlin is less strict as a parent and his relationship with Nemo is restored.
We also discussed what a non-linear narrative can be like, where the narrative isn’t set up in the 3 or 5 acts that occur in chronological order. I took a look at Dunkirk, which is a WW2 film about three completely seperate people during the battle of dunkirk, where one of them is a soldier on the ground, another is an RAF pilot and the last person is an English civilian coming to save the troops. The events that happen in the film are all happening in parallel with one another however they aren’t all at the exact same time.
The Captain’s Feast establishes the nature of the fascist ruling class in rural Spain and the attitudes and values of Captain Vidal, the villain in the film. The feast is a scene of indulgence, greed and power. Vidal is a fascist brute, he is proud of his reputation and dominates the scene. The guests are hypocrites and prove to be arrogant, patronising, callous & heartless. Carmen, seems out of place and is represented as fragile, elegant, cowed and intimidated by the other guests, we also get the impression that Vidal views her with contempt.
The soldiers costumes all symbolise their power, status and prestige among the rest of the people at the feast and the rest of the military as their uniforms are of the higher ranks. The proxemics of the scene show the captain at the end of the table which signifies how he is the most important out of everyone present and that he’s the one that is holding the party. Captain Vidal’s positioning also matches that of the Pale Man later on in the film, subtly hinting to the audience how much of a tryrant the Captain can be. Finally the food and drinks they’re having shows their wealth and status as there are very fine and expensive foods and drinks at the table.
Pan’s Labyrinth is a film that is mainly apart of the fantasy genre and it shares many elements with other films in its genre however lots of these elements also have their differences from the genre.
Similar to other fantasy films:
- Magical Beasts – The Fairies, Faun and Pale man
- Hero destined for greatness – Ofelia is destined to become the princess of the underworld
- Heroes Trials – Ofelia has three trials she must complete before awakening her true potential
Different to other fantasy films:
- Elements of story – The story is much darker and gory than most fantasy films with lots of blood and ideas such as facism, death and conflict being present.
- Location of story – Lots of fantasy films usually have a fictional setting however Pan’s Labyrinth takes place in the real world during an actual time in history.
- Moving setting – Many fantasy films contain some elements of adventure as the characters traverse the land however Pan’s Labyrinth only takes place in the forest and rarely strays far from Ofelias home.
Genre is a way to define a film through it’s main conventions and iconography. For example many films of the fantasy genre have a fairy tale feel to them with lots of magical beasts and wizardry. In the picture above I have drawn some staple iconography of the horror genre onto a poster to expand my knowledge of what can define a genre. Some of these pictures include, killers wearing masks, zombies, ghosts and other strange monsters. These have became common place in horror films due to the critical and commercial success of films such as scream, poltergeist and night of the living dead. This was all to gain a better understanding of genre as a whole and what can define them so for when I create films of my own I can take these conventions into account to create a film that’s true to its genre.
Hot Fuzz is a satire on the police genre released in 2007 and is directed by Edgar Wright. It revolves around a cop who is transferred from London to a small village called Sandford and his wacky experiences there.
It’s auteur (Edgar Wright) has gained a cult following due to his witty writing and great cinematography which is present here. The narrative flows easily and makes the film extremely fun to watch along with the characters roles being played extremely well.