21 February 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: El laberinto del fauno (2006)


"A fairytale for grownups," some commentary said... well, fair enough! The plot El laberinto del fauno (2006, Guillermo del Toro) can be described as "a young girl is informed that she's a long lost elf princess, and that she has to complete three tasks in order to return to the kingdom of her origin". Sounds quite inoffensive, right? Sounds like a fun fairy-tale, suitable for all ages?

No. El laberinto del fauno is rated R for "graphic violence and some language", and is not suitable for small children. At all. Unless you really want to traumatize. The fantasy world del Toro depicts is dark, eerie and very visceral.
But the movie is good, it has a brave, self-emancipating girl protagonist, and we could stop here.

But El laberinto del fauno has a second layer of relevance. The movie is set in right after the Spanish Civil War, depicting guerrilla warfare and some of the choice women could make in this context: (a) trying to survive and not get involved in any political action; (b) enjoying the privilege (and avoiding hunger and danger) if their husbands happened to be part of the new regime; (c) assuming the imminent risk and take part into guerrilla movement, either in the woods or helping from outside; or (d) trying to protect themselves and their children by actively seeking protection of the fascists. While none of these are clear-cut or independent choices, you get to witness the whole spectrum of from adaptation to resistance. That's the special, feminist added value of this movie.

An additional reading on a (slightly) different war that was won by other people and women's destiny after the victory: An Ugly Carnival by Antony Beevor on the social and physical punishments that women accused of collaboration horizontale during the WWII were submitted to.

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