Episode 3: Fantasy In Historical Context


Nothing is better than a great work of fiction positions itself into an even richer, more dynamic historical context. Pan’s Labyrinth, the 2006 dark fantasy film by Guillermo del Toro, is tactfully positioned in the historical context of the Spanish Civil War. The line between fantasy and reality is tread by the characters in this film as they deal with the tyranny and oppression of reality’s current regime, and the fantastical unknown of the underworld.

Each individual views the world in radically different ways based on past experiences, their beliefs and station in life. Each character’s motivations in this film can tell us some fascinating truths about that human condition. One exercise we like to partake in is creating “character matrices” which map character relationships as a kit of parts, in order to understand the web that organizes them.

This particular matrix is centered around Ofelia, the film's young protagonist. The northern section of the diagram represents reality, and the southern section is fantasy that only Ofelia can see. The concentric rings represent how close of a relationship the characters have with Ofelia.