Film Analysis – Pan’s Labyrinth


I chose the film Pan’s Labyrinth because I have been meaning to watch it for some time now.

Film Analysis

Film TitlePan’s Labyrinth
DirectorGuillermo Del Toro
If you could work on this film (change it), what would you change and why?

Film information can be found at

As you view films, consider how the cuts, camera angles, shots, and movement work to create particular meanings. Think about how they establish space, privilege certain characters, suggest relationships, and emphasize themes. In addition to shot distances, angles, editing, and camera movement, note details of the narrative, setting, characters, lighting, props, costume, tone, and sound.

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Who is the protagonist?Ofelia
2. Who is the antagonist?The Captain
3. What is the conflict?Ofelia must pass three trials to return to her place as the princess of the underworld while trying to survive her new father’s violence.
4. What is the theme or central, unifying concept? (summarize in one or two words)Good vs Evil
5. How is the story told (linear, non-linear, with flashbacksflash-forwards, at regular intervals)The film begins with a scene from the end of the movie before jumping back to the beginning of the story. There are no other flashbacks or flash-forwards.
6. What “happens” in the plot (Brief description)?Set in Spain in 1994, a troop of soldiers are sent to a remote forest to flush out the rebels. They are led by Capitan Vidal, a murdering sadist, and with him are his new wife Carmen and her daughter from a previous marriage, 11-year-old Ofelia. Ofelia witnesses her stepfather’s sadistic brutality and is drawn into Pan’s Labyrinth, a magical world of mythical beings.
7. How does the film influence particular reactions on the part of viewers (sound, editing,
characterization, camera movement, etc.)? Why does the film encourage such
The lighting, whether it is bright or dark, makes the audience feel more or less safe. The diegetic sound was primarily used to enhance tension, as it was most clear when danger was near. These reactions were encouraged as they increase the audience’s immersion.
8. Is the setting realistic or stylized? What atmosphere does the setting suggest? Do particular objects or settings serve symbolic functions?The setting is realistic, portraying the human world and the fantasy world the same way.
9. How are the characters costumed and made-up? What does their clothing or makeup reveal about their social standing, ethnicity, nationality, gender, or age? How do costume and makeup convey character?The Captain is always well dressed in a clean uniform or well-kept clothes showing his power until the movie begins to come to a close and his time ends. Ofelia wears clean and well-kept, but older clothing until she regains her position as princess. This shows that her status has improved since her journey began.
10. How does the lighting design shape our perception of character, space, or mood?The lighting started bright and warm before Ofelia met the Captain and she was still happy and safe. Upon meeting him, the lighting became dimmer and cool. Finally, when she gets to the underworld to reclaim her throne, the lighting becomes bring and war once again. Throughout the film, the lighting reflects Ofelia’s moods and the level of danger the “good” characters are facing.
11. How do camera angles and camera movements shape our view of characters or spaces? What do you see cinematically?
12. What is the music’s purpose in the film? How does it direct our attention within the image? How does it shape our interpretation of the image? What stands out about the music?The music was used to enhance the audience’s feelings of relief or happiness, as it was typically used when the characters were feeling such emotions. In moments of stress, there was an absence of music.
13. How might industrial, social, and economic factors have influenced the film? Describe how this film influences or connects to a culture?Ofelia’s experince growing up in a war is not too dissimilar from that of the people my age. While yes, we are fortunate that war is not fought on our soil, we have lived our entire lives with our country being at war. The loss she felt at losing her father to the battle is one that is unfortunately relatable to many. Even though American and Spanish cultures are different, connecting with Ofelia and empathizing for her is easy.
14. Give an example of what a film critic had to say about this film. Use credible sources and cite sources. Example: “The Shawshank Redemption Movie Review (1994) | Roger Ebert.” All Content. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2015.“”Pan’s Labyrinth” is one of the greatest of all fantasy films, even though it is anchored so firmly in the reality of war,” (Roger Ebert).
Ebert, Roger. “Pan’s Labyrinth Movie Review & Film Summary (2006): Roger Ebert.” Pan’s Labyrinth Movie Review & Film Summary (2006) | Roger Ebert, 25 Aug. 2007,
15. Select one scene no longer than 5 minutes that represents well the whole film and shows relevant cinematic elements. Write a one-sentence description of the scene and record the time of the scene.Example: from 1:05:00 to 1:10:00.Explain why you chose this scene.PLACE THE TIME STAMP FROM THE SCENE HERE… 01:34:39 – 01:36:22 
16. In the selected scenewrite a sentence for each of the elements below to justify why this scene best represents the film:
a. Screenwriting:Concept for the scene was clear and concise.
b. Sound Design:There was a distinct lack of diegetic sound until Mercedes had been rescued, allowing the audience to focus on the dialogue and character’s actions.
c. Camera Movements/Angles:The camera was positioned in pov shots that slowly zoomed in on characters faces as they drew closer together.
d. Light Setup:The lighting is dark, the saturation is lower than in previous scenes, and it is blue to indicate nightfall.
e. Soundtrack/Score:There was an intentional lack of music throughout the scene, keeping the mood tense, until everyone was safe again.
18. What’s the socio-cultural context of this film?This film takes place in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

This worksheet was developed with ideas from many IB Film teachers, thus should remain in the Creative Commons

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