Study Guide

Pan's Labyrinth Choices

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MAYOR: We'll help in any way we can, Captain. We know you're not here by choice.

VIDAL: You're wrong about that. I choose to be here because I want my son to be born in a new, clean Spain. Because these people have the idea that we're all alike, but there's a difference. The war is over and we won. And if we need to kill each one of those motherf***ers to agree on it, then we'll kill them all. And that's that. We're all her by choice. [He raises his glass.] ALL

GUESTS: By choice.

The power to choose is perhaps the greatest in the film. While Ofelia's tough decisions are what make her a true heroine, this line from Vidal just makes reinforces what an evil man he truly is.

FAUN: There are still two more tasks and the moon is almost full. Be patient. We'll soon be strolling through the seven circular gardens of your palace.

OFELIA: How do I know what you say is true?

FAUN: Why would a poor little faun like me lie to you?

One of the hardest choices Ofelia has to make is whether or not to trust the Faun. Mercedes' warning combined with the creepy way he touches her face and refers to himself as a "poor faun" is reason enough for a little distrust. It would have been easy to create a jolly or wizened guide for Ofelia, but instead we get the Faun. (Shudder.) We as an audience are also forced to choose whether we trust him… or if we think that he's trying to use Ofelia for a secret plan of labyrinth domination.

FERREIRO: You're screwed. No guns, no roof over your head…you need food, medicine. You should take care of Mercedes. If you really loved her you would cross the border with her. This is a lost cause.

PEDRO: I'm staying here, Doctor. There's no choice.

Harsh words from the doc, but he's right. Even if the rebels manage to beat Vidal, he'll simply be replaced by another captain. The Falangists have won the war and anything the rebels do will merely be an inconvenience. But Pedro feels as if there's no decision to be made. He doesn't have the agency of the doctor or Vidal. He doesn't fight to win; he fights because he couldn't live with himself otherwise.

FERREIRO: Her temperature is down.

VIDAL: But she still has a fever?

FERREIRO: Yes, but it's a good sign. Her body is responding.

VIDAL: Listen to me: if you have to choose, save the baby. That boy will bear my name and my father's name too.

Wow, this is a choice that most people couldn't even consider unless absolutely necessary. But Vidal is prepared. To him, Carmen's merely a vessel carrying his precious cargo. It's not a choice between two lives: it's a choice between some woman and his own immortality.

FAUN: This is the Book of Crossroads. Open it when you're alone and it will show you your future—show you what must be done.

"Crossroads" is a place where two roads intersect, but it's often used to describe a difficult decision that must be made. The books title is there to remind us that Ofelia has a choice. She isn't being commanded by the Faun; she's handed a book and it will show her the future. Every step of the journey is of her own volition.

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