Critical Analysis Of Myth Adaptation In Regard To Pan’s Labyrinth


Myth in any society is a part of religion and the religious account of the beginning of the world. Myth is often reinterpreted, altered, and localized depending upon society and culture for storyteller’s purpose, to make people understand something that had effects on the human being in the past days. It contains different ideas related to politics, religion, and ideas about life. It is respected and believed even in these modern times. In other words, myth is like the vehicles for the transference and conveying of religious, political, and particular ideas. This essay endeavors to explore how has the myth adaptation approached the issue of violence in regard to the film Pan’s labyrinth.

Pan's Labyrinth(2006) is a dark fantasy realism film set in 1944 Spain. It’s an adaptation of the horror of civil war and the violence that took place. Because through this movie, the director re-visions the happenings in the civil war. It targeted those people who had suffered the horrors and violence from the civil war. This film is a blend of the mythical and real world. It contains violence at its peak. Adaptation has a kind of 'themes and variation.' It means that change has to occur one way or the other, but there will be various causes of change in the process of adaptation made by the demand, of form, targeted audience, the concept of reception, etc. In Pan's Labyrinth, myth is adapted in such a way that it highlights the issue of violence. By visualizing various creatures from Greek mythology, the director has delivered the film’s value and violence to audience.

The director has shown violence to his audience by using exaggerated visual effects to visualize mythology. In Greek mythology, Pan is the god of nature and rustic music and considered as a modest creature who doesn’t obsess about violence. In metamorphosis, Ovid depicts Pan as 'who played upon the reed pipe which was Syrinx, his beloved.'

Whereas, in this film, pan is deliberately designed as a violent creature with a horrible appearance. The character of Pan that is considered to be the most genius of all (in Greek Mythology) it also containing a contradictory personality in this movie. Violence is obvious in this movie as each character is living a fearful life and unaware of the upcoming events that might take their lives. Various scenes in the movie make it obvious that the director wanted his audience to feel the horrors of violence and bloodshed.

The whole film revolves around the mythical elements and myth adaptation, and it highlights and approaches the issue of violence. The monstrous creature that Ofelia comes across while completing her second task, the pale man who is also called a child-eating monster, is Lamia from Greek mythology. The purpose of showing the dark and violent images is to explain how filthy this creature is who kills his children. In Greek mythology, the character of Lamia is pure even if she is the lover of Zeus, but she turns into a monster when Zeus's wife cast a spell on her.

Moreover, director draw inspiration from Goya (France Jose de Goya Lucientes) 's dark work 'Saturnus devouring his son' when he depicts the pale man’s scene. The mural around the pale man is created by imitating Goya's famous disturbing image 'Saturn Devouring His Son' It depicts the story of the Saturnus, which is the god in roman mythology consuming his children in order to prevent them from scheming for power. Noticed that this design significantly establishes a strong violent atmosphere and gloomy tone. Also, through the character of Ofelia, the movie highlights the two sides of a human being. She can accomplish two dangerous tasks assigned by Pan that shows her bravely and violent nature, whereas, by scarifying herself in place of her brother, the softness in her character is shown. By adapting the characteristics of various Greek characters, this movie has explained the transformation of a creature from modest to cruel and evil. As in Greek mythology, where half-human and half-goat is a positive and modest character, but the character of Pan or Faun in the movie has a contradicting point of view because at first, he refuses to assign three tasks to Ofelia, but later changes his mind and assigns her the toughest task. Through the film contains various myths and metaphors, the issue of violence is also given importance, and a deeper understanding regarding the adaptation of different characteristics in real life has been portrayed.


In this film, Del Toro pictures a grotesque, enchanted magic world governed by the cruel, harsh mythology. The Greek mythology characters are reinterpreted and remodeled with localized and particularized meaning according to the Spanish civil war background, for example, Pale man as Lamia, Pan, etc. Hence, this film offers profound thoughts than other traditional war films, and people with an understanding of Greek myths could better perceive the significance of violence and peace conveyed by the film. Moreover, it contains the aspects of the Spanish Civil war that caused a lot of bloodshed and violence, and therefore, violence is shown in this movie. It shows the audience how bloodshed can turn a normal human creature into a monster that eats their kids and kill others. Therefore, myth is successfully adapted to a dim, gory type of consumption in order to approach the issue of violence in the film.


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16 December 2021
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