Ofelia travels with her weak pregnant mother to join her step dad, Captain Vidal in a run down mill where he is stationed in the mountains. Early on, she understands his cold hearted nature and refuses to be a part of his house. She also chances upon an old dilapidated labyrinth. A voracious reader and believer of fairy tales, Ofelia finds refuge in her books. On a certain night, a fairy in the form of an insect leads her to the Labyrinth where she meets the gnarled fawn. The fawn convinces her that she is in reality, the princess of the underworld. However, she has to pass three critical tests to return to her true parents as their princess. Whether it was her tyrannical father that drove her into the mystical land or her own firm faith in fairies and magic, is open to interpretation. Ofelia sets off on her journey alternating between her unacceptable reality and her Promised Land. It is almost a parallel to Alice in Wonderland, just garish and bloody.
Like every other fantasy movie, there is a quest for realization. For Ofelia, the obstacles she undertakes to prove herself the true lost princess of the underworld is integral to her development and understanding her nature. Each character in the movie take different paths that govern their nature to go against the oppressive blind obedience to the tyrannical Captain Vidal. Ofelia is in the process of discovering herself, while Mercedes, her caretaker takes a covert route aided by the Doctor who finally stands up to Vidal and gets killed. One can also interpret it as the path each one takes to awaken their conscience and true nature, in the process set themselves free.
Is it through death you realize true immortality?
To quote Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “A reality not of paper, but one that lives within us and determines each instant of our countless daily deaths, and that nourishes a source of insatiable creativity, full of sorrow and beauty, of which this roving and nostalgic Colombian is but one cipher more, singled out by fortune. Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable.”