Film Review | Three Act Structure - Pan's Labyrinth


Act I – Setup
During this Act, the viewer is introduced to Ofelia, her pregnant mother and their situation as they are escorted by soldiers to Vidal’s camp. We are given an insight into Vidal’s difficult relationship with Ofelia as they shake hands, as Vidal turns down her left hand and informs her that she should be offering her right hand. Soon after, we are introduced to a fairy who leads Ofelia into the Labyrinth to meet the Faun who notifies Ofelia of her royal blood and sets her out on a quest to prove that she is worthy/ready to be reintroduced to the underworld.

Act II – Confrontation
This act comes after Ofelia begins her quest and must confront these missions. She enters the woods and finds a strangely-shaped tree, climbs inside of it and descends. Here, she finds a giant toad and, after a struggle, manages to retrieve the key she was tasked to recover. In-between quests, Ofelia struggles with Vidal as they both clearly have a disliking for each other, and her mum falls ill, requiring help from the Faun. Her mother’s health quickly improves, allowing Ofelia to complete her next task.
Soon after, the Faun visits Ofelia and issues her to enter the lair of a formidable and feared creature, who is to retrieve a dagger from, and is expressly told to not eat anything from the feast laid out on the monster’s table. Ofelia enters the lair and, after a short walk, find the monster sat at the opposite end of a veritable feast with his eyes laid out on a plate in front of him; the monster himself unresponsive. Ofelia sees three locked boxes and manages to unlock the correct one with the key she gained earlier from the toad, giving her access the dagger she was tasked to find. As she begins to leave, she pauses and begins to eat from the monster’s table, despite the faun’s previous warnings. As she does so, the Pale Man moves and places his eyes within his hands. The three fairies who accompanied her attempt to warn Ofelia of the monster’s activity, but she only becomes aware as two of the fairies are grabbed out of the air and eaten by the Pale Man. Ofelia runs and barely manages to escape from the Pale Man’s lair.
Due to the loss of two fairies, the Faun decides that Ofelia is undeserving of being reintroduced to the Underworld and leaves. Soon after, Ofelia’s mother dies while giving birth. Due to this (as well as Vidal’s cruelty), Ofelia attempt to escape with her nanny Mercedes, but are both quickly apprehended by Vidal himself, resulting in Ofelia being locked away in her room. While she is locked up, the Faun visits her and explains that he will give her one last chance to complete her final mission. He then continues to explain that she must steal her infant brother and take him to the centre of the labyrinth. She quickly escapes from her room and finds her brother, where she quickly snatches him into her arms. While doing so, Ofelia is discovered by Vidal, leading to an escape through the woods and the labyrinth until they reach the centre.
Upon reaching there, the Faun explains that they must cut the baby with the previously-gained dagger, as they must use the blood of an innocent to gain entry to the underworld. Ofelia refuses and claims that she would rather give up her chances of being reunited with her royal family than kill her innocent brother. Vidal soon catches up with Ofelia, takes the baby from her arms and shoots her in the chest.

Act III – Resolution
Ofelia lays there, on the edge of the hole in the centre of the labyrinth, as blood flows from her chest, down her arm, and drops into the hole. Eventually, the blood begins to fill a carved pattern in the cave, causing Ofelia to be transported to the underworld, as she had filled the labyrinth with her own innocent blood. She is then greeted by her royal family and the Faun, where it becomes clear that everything happened just as it was supposed to. It then cuts to Ophelia in the first world breathing her last breath.

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