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On Pan’s Labyrinth

Pan’s Labyrinth is the story of a little girl who meets several fantastic creatures. If you think it’s the story of a girl who hallucinates several fantastic creatures, your head is up your ass.

Perhaps I should elaborate. First of all, in order for the girl to go crazy and “escape into a fantasy world,” she would need to be living under terrible conditions. When she starts seeing the creatures, she isn’t happy about living in her new home, but she certainly isn’t in a bad enough place to go crazy. Second, for her to be crazy, you have to ignore the mandrake root entirely. The mandrake root was actively making the girl’s mother better. It was only when the root was burned on the fire that the girl’s mother got instantly worse and died. Third, if the girl’s crazy, you have to subscribe to the idea that if one person can see a creature, such as a faun or a fairy, then everyone else can see it, too; therefore, if they don’t see it, it must be in her head. Of course, this is nonsense. Ghosts can make themselves invisible to people they don’t want to have see them. This has been proven in story after story. So why shouldn’t these creatures be able to make themselves visible, audible only to certain people?

The reason people want the creatures to be all in the girl’s head is because reality-bending is in vogue. People think that if this movie resorts to the popular cliché of having the girl imagine everything and yet believe it’s real — in other words, if the movie has a psychological thriller twist — then it’s a better movie. But it’s not. A cheap trick like that only cheapens the film by lowering it to the level of copycat art.

By this same token, Oz was a real place. Dorothy really did go to Oz. It was her wish to go back that made her wake up in bed as if it had all been a dream.

Furthermore, and of this I am absolutely certain, Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ did not have a hallucination while he was dying on the cross. Sure: bring supernatural powers — God and the Devil — into the story and then tell me that what happened to Jesus could not possibly have been real. Head out of ass, pull. Jesus was deceived by the Devil. He left the cross, had a family, grew old. But when he saw that the Devil had tricked him, he prayed to God to let him go back and die on the cross like he was supposed to. And so God, who is omnipotent, did just that.

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