Mis En Scene in Pan's Labyrinth

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Pan’s Labyrinth, an award-winning Spanish film, has garnered awards for its elaborate use of mise-en-scene. In particular, the scene in which the protagonist Ofelia meets the Faun for the first time makes use of various mise-en-scene elements – setting, costume and makeup, lighting, and movement and performance, to trace a series of narrative events that initiate a goal-oriented plot. The scene starts with Ofelia and her mother Carmen, who are sound asleep in the bedroom. Ofelia is suddenly startled awake by the appearance of an unusually large stick insect, which transforms into a green fairy and gestures for Ofelia to follow it. She is led from the house compound into a labyrinth – a maze-like stone structure crowded with trees and roots – and finally emerges in front of a rotunda. Descending into the rotunda, she meets the Faun, a subject of the Underworld who has awakened upon learning of Ofelia’s presence. He addresses her as the Princess of the Underworld, and instructs her to fulfill three tasks from the Book of Crossroads – which he passes to her – before the moon is full, and departs. Three settings – the bedroom, forested grounds of the labyrinth and rotunda, are used in this expository scene. These settings’ dark, grayish tones contribute to an overall mood of mystery and suspense, and focus the audience’s attention on the protagonist, Ofelia, whose white nightgown sets a huge contrast against the dully-coloured surroundings. Settings can also serve as metaphorical representations which support the main narrative action. Ofelia’s departure from her bedroom to the labyrinth and rotunda, taken on a subtler level, can be understood as her desire to escape reality and the harsh cruelties that exist in a post-civil war Spain (bedroom), to a fantasy world (labyrinth and rotunda) of mystical creatures that promise her liberation and freedom from the binds of

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