University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
The Bible and Pan’s Labyrinth
In 1944 fascist Spain, a girl named Ofelia, fascinated and obsessed with fairy-tales, is sent along with her pregnant mother to live with her new stepfather, a ruthless and somewhat evil captain of the Spanish army. During the night, she meets a fairy who takes her to an old faun in the center of an old labyrinth garden. Upon meeting the Faun, he tells her she is the lost Princess, Moanna, and that her father, the king of the underworld, has sent out messengers to open portals so she could return. However, because there is only one portal left she must be tested and carry out three tasks to prove her “essence” is still intact and that she hasn’t become mortal. Though it is subtle, the movie, Pan’s Labyrinth uses quite a few references to the bible to tell it’s story.
One example of how Pan’s Labyrinth uses references in the bible is when the story tells of a Princess who has escaped from a “utopia” where there are no lies and no pain. She was very curious and often dreamt about the Human world, so she then escaped. Though a little different, this part of the movie is a reference to the Garden of Eden and of Adam and Eve. The place that the Princess lived is described as a place of no lies and pain, similar to how the Garden of Eden was described as a utopia that God created. In addition, Adam and Eve had eaten fruit from the tree of knowledge and became aware of the world around them which similar to how the Princess becomes curious about the human world. Furthermore, when Adam and Eve were banished, they suffered many hardships, where in comparison, when Princess Moanna came to the human world, she suffered as well.
Another example of how Pan’s Labyrinth uses references in the bible in it’s story is shown when Ofelia is given three tasks to complete to prove she has Princess Moanna’s essence and is not a mortal. This is strikingly similar to how in the Book of Job, God allows Satan to test Job to see if he will still be loyal to God even when tragedy falls upon him. In this case, the King of the Underworld, who represents god, has sent the Faun, who represents Satan, to test Ofelia to see if she is truly the princess. In the bible and Pan’s Labyrinth, both protagonists must face many hardships in order to prove themselves.
The final example of how Pan’s Labyrinth uses references in the bible it it’s story is when Ofelia must retrieve a dagger from the lair of the Pale man, a child-eating monster who sits in front of a large feast. In order to accomplish this task Ofelia must obtain the dagger and not eat anything, but she gives into temptation and eats and the Pale man tries to kill her. Though not as obvious, this is quite similar to when Adam and Eve also didn’t follow orders and gave into temptations and is shown the wrath of God. In the scene where the Pale man tries to kill Ofelia symbolizes God’s fury when you disobey him even though god didn’t go as gar as to try to kill them.
Thus, we can see that though not easily identifiable, Pan’s Labyrinth is cleverly riddled with biblical references through out the movie taking into account that some unimportant points were changed to accommodate the story. Overall, Pan’s Labyrinth references a lot to Adam and Eve and their struggles as well as the trials and tests man and human kind are constantly put through to prove their faith in God. With this in mind, Pan’s Labyrinth transforms what is seemingly a boring story and crafts it into a masterful story of temptation, trials, innocence and countless other themes often seen in the bible. This shows that even in more modern stories, the teachings and lessons of the bible still hold significant value to people today.