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Guillermo Del Toro on Pan's Labyrinth

Published December 26, 2006 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Picturehouse.
Pan's Labyrinth Poster Pan's Labyrinth
Pan's Labyrinth is the story of a girl who escapes into a fantasy world when her real life becomes too harsh to bear. Though many viewers think the film is clear on differentiating the real world and the fantasy world, director Guillermo Del Toro intended it to be open.

Interview: Guillermo Del Toro on Pan's Labyrinth


"There are two or three moments of mystery in the film," said Del Toro. "I can give you my answer, but that doesn’t mean that it is the answer. My answer is that those who cannot see, will not see. It’s very simple. The girl asks Mercedes, 'Do you believe in faeries?,' while they’re milking the cow, and she says, 'I used to, when I was a girl, but I don’t believe in many things anymore.' If the Captain saw the faun, what does that tell you about that fascist sociopath, and what does that tell you about the fable? I am not in control of what you choose to believe in. I’m not in control of what you think is more important. I’m telling you the story. For me, the movie ends in on a note of absolute hope and beauty, with a tiny white flower blooming on a dead tree, and an insect watching it as it blooms. For me, that’s as heavy as the entire outcome of a war. But, that’s me. That’s the way I look at things. I can concentrate on this being great, and not minding the rest. I believe in those things."

A fairy tale set in Spain during World War II, Pan's Labyrinth reflects Del Toro's childhood literacy. "In the time of spiritual formation, for me, both fairy tales and the Bible had the exact same weight. I was as enthralled by a parable in the Bible about the grain of mustard, as I could be about three brothers on their quest to marry a princess, and I found equal spiritual illumination in both. And, even when I was a kid, funny enough, I used to be able to find those fairy tales that felt preachy and pro-establishment, and I hated them. I hated the ones that were about, 'Don’t go out at night.' There are fairy tales that are created to instill fear in children, and there are fairy tales that are created to instill hope and magic in children. I like those. I like the anarchic ones. I like the crazy ones. And, I think that all of them have a huge quotient of darkness because the one thing that alchemy understands and fairy tale lore understands is that you need the vile matter for magic to flourish. You need lead to turn it into gold. You need the two things for the process. So, when people sanitize fairy tales and homogenize them, they become completely uninteresting for me."



Sharp viewers may notice familiar elements in Del Toro's fairy tale. "We are doing homages to Lewis Carroll, to The Wizard of Oz, to Hans Christian Anderson with the little magical girl, to Oscar Wilde, and very specifically to David Copperfield and Charles Dickens. These are things that I voluntarily do. But, the one book that I would say was a huge influence on making the movie is a book called The Science of Fairy Tales, which is a recent catalog of all the primordial streaks of storytelling in fairy tale lore."

With all his elements embedded in the film, Del Toro hopes everyone takes away a different interpretation. "It’s like a blotch test. If they are enraged by the bleak hopelessness, or they are enthralled by the beauty and the poetry and the hope in the film, it’s equal to me. I think that it’s a movie that is going to make people react emotionally, hopefully. What I would love is, ideally, if this movie connects with you, it should create an almost perfect simulation of what it is to be a kid again, both by the beauty and the fear, because both things are dialed up. The brutality is dialed up, artificially, and the fantasy is dialed up, artificially. It’s like doing a deep tissue massage to the soul, to try and reach the point where you will react to the violence and say, 'Oh, my God.' It’s so over-the-top that it will affect you. And, the fantasy is also so over-the-top that it will affect you. It’s a simulation of a moment in childhood that you have. That’s why it’s a fairy tale for adults. Kids don’t need that extreme pushing."

Pan's Labyrinth will have a limited release on December 29th.

For more movie info, movie stills, posters, clips, early reviews and trailers, go to the Pan's Labyrinth Movie Page.

Stay tuned for updates.


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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Picturehouse.
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