Gender Roles – Women
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles – Men
Gender Roles - Women: 4.5 Stars
Ofelia is an adventurous and brave young girl. She still believes in magic and doesn’t hesitate when she’s offered a way out of her dismal situation. She is not only courageous in her interactions with fauns and fairies and the other fairy tale monsters she encounters, but she also stands up to Captain Vidal, a very real monster that controls every facet of her life.
Captain Vidal’s housekeeper, Mercedes, is also a brave and inspiring woman. She takes tremendous risks with her own life in order to help the rebel soldiers surrounding the outpost - and eventually proves herself capable of much more than delivering medicine and supplies.
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 4 Stars
Neither Ofelia nor Mercedes derives any of their power from their physical appearance. At one point, Ofelia is given a pretty dress that’s meant to impress the Captain, but she immediately discards the dress in order to accomplish the first of her three terrible tasks. Similarly, Mercedes completes her clandestine missions through bravery, secrecy and vigilance. She has no delusions that a pretty look will save her if she’s ever discovered.
Plot: 4.5 Stars
Ofelia’s magical quests take her to strange places that test her courage and her strength. As she works through the faun’s riddles, she also tends to a curious potion that brings down her mother’s fever and helps restore her health. All of her actions and decisions are secrets that threaten her comfort and safety in the real world. But she is willing to take the risks at the chance of opening a portal to a better life. And in the end, she makes a heroic decision that proves she’s worthy of the bright future she’s been promised.
Mercedes’ story closely mimics that of Ofelia. She carries out her duties to the rebels in secret, knowing full well the consequences if she’s discovered by Captain Vidal. But she believes in her cause. She believes in defying corruption and insisting on real freedom. And though she considers herself a coward for serving Captain Vidal and living under his roof, her contributions clearly help to tip the scales in the rebels’ favor.
Character Development: 4 Stars (Spoilers)
Ofelia is determined to complete the tasks that she’s given regardless of the difficulty or danger, but she still approaches each obstacle with a firm sense of independence. She isn’t so blinded by the faun’s promises that she never questions whether he’s lying to her. Nor does she obediently follow the fairies’ instructions during her second difficult task. And when she comes to the end of her trials, she ignores the faun’s orders completely, sacrificing her last opportunity at redemption to save her brother’s life.
Mercedes is also a well-defined character, whose intentions and motivations are clear. Unlike Ofelia, she doesn’t really expect to win her war with Captain Vidal, but she’s content to make things difficult for him until he catches her. She struggles with the fact that she must pretend to respect and serve the captain throughout the day, rather than confronting him head on. But she also recognizes that there are certain advantages in being a woman. That she is able to get close enough to sabotage him in a way that the other rebels could never do.
Gender Roles - Men: 3 Stars
Pan’s Labyrinth depicts a violent world where even kind men have little choice but to bear arms in self-defense or in the pursuit of justice. Just the same, this film does include a rare sort of hero in the character of Doctor Ferreiro. The doctor clearly isn’t a soldier. He’s dedicated his life to working with the sick and wounded, but he still finds ways to defy the corrupt power structure.