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I just watched Pan's Labyrinth last night. The movie is really good, but I could not understand one thing - the fantasy part with Ofelia, is it happening for real or she is just imagining things?

I ask this because I noted two points in the movie -

  1. When Vidal pulls the mandrake root out of Ofelia's mother's bed it appears to be just a normal root. While whenever Ofelia is seen with it, it does things.

  2. In the end when Vidal follows Ofelia to the labyrinth, Ofelia is talking to the faun, but when Vidal looks at it, it appears that there is no one there.

So what's exactly happening? Is Ofelia just dreaming things to get herself in a fairy world, out of her present surroundings or the things happening for real but visible only to Ofelia?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I think it's deliberately ambiguous.

If it's real, the inconsistencies are easily explained by Vidal's fascist belief system. These elements simply are not part of his world.

If it's fantasy, then of course only Ofelia can see these thing because she imagined them.

I think part of Del Toro's purpose in the film was to maintain the plausibility of both of these interpretations.

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I mostly agree that Del Toro deliberately left the ambiguity. So, we could never know is Ofelia dreaming. But there is a scene at the end of the movie Ofelia escapes from Vidal, drawing the door on the wall. I failed to find an explanation how she was able to imagine it. –  default locale Feb 3 '13 at 9:29
    
@defaultlocale I don't recall that part. I'll have to watch it again. –  luser droog Feb 3 '13 at 9:34

This is a fantasy playing out in Ofelia's mind. She is a child of war and this is her escape from the atrocities she is witnessing. If you know Spanish the fawn speaks to Ofelia in the "vosotros" subject, translating to you (plural) in English. A nice detail on Del Toro's part.

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