09 May 2017
Fascism or Fable?
The film industry, whether being depicted as a medium for works of art or as an ever evolving business, is capable of creating educational and historically driven pieces. In 2006 director Guillermo Del Toro had written and directed the dark and somber film Pan’s Labyrinth. Del Toro describes the film as a parable, implementing numerous instances of political parallels and mythical symbolism. Pan’s Labyrinth in its entirety is a platform for detailing the horrific nature of Fascism and its deteriorating effects on free will. Fascism is the overlooming villain of the movie, being portrayed onscreen by two allegorical antagonists: the oppressive Captain Vidal and the terrible child eating monster, The Pale Man. Despite these two clear representations, the film delves much deeper than the horrid nature of Fascism.
The ideological roots of Fascism can be traced back to the 1880’s, where the french general populous had a very fin de siècle or turn of the century outlook on the government. This overlooming theme was caused by revolts against democracy, rationalism and bourgeois society. The rise of anti-democratic nationalists and french anarchists gave way to the acceptance of nationalism within Italy and other European nations. Italy especially welcomed the ideology of Fascism due to the nation being ravaged after World War I. With the rise of political figures like Benito Mussolini in Europe, the ideals and concepts of nationalism were increasingly present after post World War I reconstruction.
In late april of 1931 the military dictatorship, masked as a monarch, was opted out and a new Republic was elected into power. This Second Republic weakened government power, the military, and the Catholic Church, which lead to the uprising of a well known authoritarian Francisco Franco. Within a span of 5 years, Franco managed to become acquainted with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy while simultaneously being backed by the church and numerous military groups. After multiple skirmishes with republican forces, the Franco Regime managed to amass enough power to overthrow the current Republic set in place. Through the Franco Regime the media was censored, the language and cultures of Spain’s Catalan and Basque regions were repressed, and he exerted total control over the nation.
Knowing the background and status of Spain under the regime is imperative when attempting to make a connection towards Pan’s Labyrinth. The ruthlessness and ideology of Captain Vidal draws a clear parallel to the leadership and cruelness dished out by Francisco after the Spanish Civil War. Vidal’s aggression toward the rebels and obsession with total control gives a glance into the lives of the people stuck under fascist rule. The atrocities being committed, double downed with the constant aura of fear being dispersed is the cause for Ofelia’s condition in the movie. The terror that this young girl...