- Tale of Bluebeard - murders his wives (Vidal says save the son not Carmen)
- Gender reversal of wicked stepmother
- Fantasy of heroism - father's watch
- Ofelia's story of the blue rose is symbolic of freedom, the thorns symbolism facism
Stories within Stories
- Film starts with the tale of Princess Moanna (hace mucho mucho tiempo)
- Ofelia tells stories to her brother (hace muchos anos)
- Carmen tells Ofelia to stop reading fairy tales
- El hombre palido eats the fairy - horrific image of the destruction of innocence
Good vs Evil vs Innocence
In a war between good and evil there can be no innocence, Ofelia's kingdom would be a land of innocence, yet she exists in the real, war-ridden world so cannot escape to innocence.
Fights for good, still dies (loses innocence)
Power and Control
Ofelia - Books, storytelling, completing her tasks, disobedience in eating grapes
Faun - Tells Ofelia what to do, can take away her power if needed
Mercedes - Power in supplying the rebels, power of being a woman gives her the ability to go unnoticed, as Vidal thinks she would never disobey him, power over him in torture scene
Vidal - Asserts control as the Captain, controls Caremn by embarrassing her at the table, uses violence as a form of control - torture scenes, Ofelia, 2 innocent men
Doctor - Dies due to disobedience - "But Captain, to obey, just like that, for obedience's sake without questioning...that's something only people like you do."
El hombre palido - Guarded by laws, only is woken up by eating.
Social - Fascism has won the civil war, so the society at the time had to conform to those ideals. Thus there were no women's rights, presented through Vidal's treatment of Carmen and Mercedes. Fascists won the war through the war of attrition (guerra de desgaste).
Political - Spain controlled by fascists, and Franco had started using a miltary style dictatorship, with small rebel groups throughout the country.
Ideology - Only allowed fascist ideology (or undergo the risk of imprisonment) which was: no social or liberal freedom, regional autonomy or free elections.
Relative to the Film: Vidal is symbolic of Franco and all the cruel leaders, so as the setting is a microcosm for all of Spain, he emodies all the violence used against rebels, but not all leaders may have been this cruel. furthermore, the unclear setting in Spain is used to show that these occurences are spanning Spain.
Timeless/Dated: As the film was already set in the past when it was released, it avoids becoming dated, and as the Spanish Civil War was such a massive event that is still learnt about, it is timeless. Furthermore the use of fairy tales, told throughout time, makes it seem timeless, as it focuses around myths and legends.
Vidal and Symbolism
Vidal echoes Pale Man
- Dinner Table
- Way of walking, after he's been drugged
- Ate his children so they did not overtake him, makes them part of himself so that they cannot exist without the parent.
- Symbolic of fascism as the way of maintaining the patriarchy
- Cronus is also known as "father time"
Vidal and Time
- Importance of his father
- Always tending to his pocket watch
- His office inside a waterwheel, looks similar to a clock
Reality and Fantasy
Colour Scheme Dichotomy:
- Reds/golds for fantasy - bright yellow setting in Ofelia's kingdom
- Blues/greens for reality - Storm battle
- The tree and faun's horns echo fallopian tubes (Pan as a god of fertility)
- Underworld kingdom as vesica piscis
Reality - Straight lines, harsh edges, fantasy - curves and circles - bath scene is both
- Book of crossroads, baby haemorraghing
- Blood goes across pages in shape of fallopian tubes/ fauns horns
- Every other scene is fantasy, mixed with reality
- Pale man's pile of shoes - WW2
Structure of the Film
Immediately shown the characters priorities, Ofelia's first scene is reading, Vidal's is looking at his watch.
Vidal and Time
- Office in a waterwheel, looks like a clock
- always fixing his pocket watch
Ofelia's desperation to get away from the terrifying Vidal is made more sympathetic through the single shot of Vidal sewing his face.
Scene changes to fantasy done in horizontal span (Ofelia lying on Carmen's stomach)
Scene changes to reality done in vertical span (Vidal's shots)