I believe “Pan’s Labyrinth” presents a unique opportunity to discuss Pagan/polytheist theology in contrast to the dominant monotheisms. Unlike “The Da Vinci Code”, this film isn’t bogged down with questions about Christian heresy and Gnosticism and can be referenced without having to talk about our views on Mary Magdalen’s marital status. If this film continues to seep into public conversations about faith and religion, Pagan commentators should be ready to move beyond disclaimers regarding Ofelia’s actions and instead talk about what elements in the film accurately portray Pagan ideas and beliefs.
Living 25 miles from the nearest movie house, M. and I are big Netflix customers, and last night we finally saw the film now that it is out on DVD.
Neither of us would have called it a “Pagan” movie, faun or no faun. (I will skip the “faun movie” puns.)
That Ofelia is a “lost princess” seems like yet another telling of the wanderings of Sophia (Wisdom) in the fallen world. Many people respond to that story of separation: “I am not from here. My parents are not my real parents. I belong in a better, purer place.” So Gnostic.
The “lost princess” is an archetypal story. It is why so many wanted to believe that young Grand Duchess Anastasia survived the murder of the Russian royal family in 1918 to wander lost and unrecognized for years. The story pulls us. As the Wikipedia article points out, Sophia is the original “damsel in distress.”
Gnosticism and Paganism have their points of contact, but they differ in their views of divinity and the material world. In Pan’s Labyrinth, the material world is clearly one to be escaped from (and with good reason) and the “real world” is somewhere else.