Study Guide

Pan's Labyrinth Immortality

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Immortality might seem like a strange theme for a movie like Pan's Labyrinth, in which every main character except for Mercedes dies…but eternal life can come in a lot of shapes and sizes.

Let's start with Ofelia, who must complete three tasks, the last of which involves her own death, in order to live forever. Hey—whatever happened to the fountain of youth?

But maybe that's the point. Only the innocent characters like Ofelia can attain immortality, while characters like Vidal trying to etch their legacy in the fabric of time are doomed to be forgotten. And then there's also the immortality of film. In a way, all characters achieve a kind of narrative immortality in the minds of viewers.

Questions About Immortality

  1. Is the Underground Realm just heaven, or is there more to the fable than this analogy suggests?
  2. What if immortality in the film wasn't free of pain, lies, fear and all other bad things that come with being mortal? Would it still be desirable?
  3. Is Ofelia, like Vidal, on a quest for immortality? Or is she merely trying to escape the mortal world that frightens and hurts her?

Chew on This

The story of the rose is Ofelia's story. She is the one brave enough to pass the thorns and endure their pain to reach eternal life.

The story of the rose is Vidal's story. He ignores the thorns and destroys himself in his quest for eternal life.

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