Representations of Childhood in Film Essay

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Childhood is represented in the media as a special time in life. A ‘walled, protected garden ‘with adults patrolling the outside to keep the innocents within safe from the hostile world outside. This image of childhood has been reinforced by a number of films churned out by the Hollywood movie machine to reinforce the romanticized view that the life of children is somehow more innocent, simpler and full of wonder. There are some films, however, that challenge these nostalgic visions of childhood and instead represent a view that childhood is a complex and challenging. Guillermo del Toro’s 2006 film ‘Pan’s Labyrinth boldly subverts ideas about childhood and attempts to see that children confront harsh realities at an early age and often …show more content…
Ofelia is no wilting violet and soon decides she can oppose the autocratic rule of Vidal. She refuses to call him ‘father’ as instructed by her mother and instead continues to call him the captain. She finds an escape from the harsh reality of her new life in a fantasy world introduced to her by a fairy she meets. There she is introduced to a menacing faun ( the Pan of the title) who tells her she is a princes of a magic kingdom and she can return there by completing three tasks. Like the fairy tales this is based on, Del Toro makes the fantasy world as frightening and challenging as the ‘real’ world. The difference is that in the underground world of the faun, has a real opportunity to take control of her life. In this alternative life she confronts many disgusting and horrific situations but she holds the key to solving them. In the world of fascist Spain she has no control or power but in the subterranean world she must trick a revolting toad to vomit up a magic key and visit the room of the disturbing ‘pale man’ in order to complete her tasks. In both situations her decision making has real consequences and she is empowered to have an impact on the world around her. This contrasts to her other life where she is forced to comply to the dominance of Vidal. She is confined to minor acts of disobedience against Captain Vidal culminating in her late arrival at a formal dinner party.

Ofelia

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