Study Guide

Pan's Labyrinth Faun (Doug Jones)

Faun (Doug Jones)

A Faun by Any Other Name…

Dude's a faun.

But what in the name of a curly-horned, cloven-hoofed minor deity is a faun? Well, the first thing we should explain is that a faun (and our character The Faun) is not the same thing as Pan.

Pan was a Greek mythological figure who loved nature. He was like the John Muir of Ancient Greece: a dude who spent all his time playing his reed flute, hanging out in the countryside, and seducing nymphs. He also has a bit of a mischievous side: the words panic and pandemonium come straight from the fact that this guy liked to stir up some antique trouble.

But a faun is a little different. Even though both fauns and Pan rocked the half-man, half-goat look (with the goat half on the bottom, thankfully), fauns were a little more laid back…at least in Greek mythology. The Romans, however, conflated the "fauns" and "satyrs" and the Romans thought of fauns as super-drunk, super-lusty followers of the wine god Bacchus.

So how does our Faun factor into this confusing mythological history?

By being confusing. The Faun's a servant of Ofelia's father and mother, who was tasked with watching over this particular portal in case Princess Moanna ever made her return. But he's also slightly sinister, more than a little tricky, and at times gives us the total creeps.

When Ofelia first shows up the Faun gets pretty excited which, uh, doesn't really make him any less creepy. He's covered in a general filthiness that's as much a part of his body as his two horns and his clouded eyes.

But despite being woken from a stony slumber, he's eager to help the Princess make her return.

When Ofelia asks who he is, he tells her:

THE FAUN: I've had so many names. Old names that only the wind and the trees can pronounce. I am the mountain, the forest, and the earth. I am a faun.

Huh. That's about as clear as the Faun's weird, foggy eyes. After we hear that, we're still not entirely sure who he is…and neither is Ofelia. All we know is that he looks exactly like a typical fantasy movie antagonist, and we're begging innocent Ofelia not to trust him.

Guide Or Beguiler?

The question of whether or not the Faun is really trying to help her or if he's in league with the Pale Man in trying to make a nice Ofelia stew lingers throughout the movie, almost to its very close.

While he's a first a bit creepy (but seemingly harmless), Mercedes' warning about not trusting fauns definitely puts us on edge. But after Ofelia semi-fails her second task and the Faun reveals to us what is at stake for him saying,

THE FAUN: Your memory of us will fade, and we'll vanish along with it!

…we begin to think that he may actually be trying to help her.

But then, for the third task—when he asks her to do exactly what he says and be completely obedient without question him at all—we start to doubt him again. If we've been paying attention, then we know that obedience is not always such a good thing in the world of Pan's Labyrinth.

And sure enough, when the Faun want's to sacrifice Ofelia's baby bro, we start to think that he's definitely a bad dude.

Until the end when it turns out: hey, the whole thing was a part of the test, and she passed with flying colors. The Faun turns out to be good after all—he was just performing the vaguely tricksy role he was meant to perform.

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