Pan's Labyrinth (2006) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • In the Falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.

  • In 1944 Falangist Spain, a girl, fascinated with fairy-tales, is sent along with her pregnant mother to live with her new stepfather, a ruthless captain of the Spanish army. During the night, she meets a fairy who takes her to an old faun in the center of the labyrinth. He tells her she's a princess, but must prove her royalty by surviving three gruesome tasks. If she fails, she will never prove herself to be the the true princess and will never see her real father, the king, again.

  • In 1944, in the post-Civil War in Spain, rebels still fight in the mountains against the Falangist troops. The young and imaginative Ofelia travels with her pregnant and sick mother Carmen Vidal to the country to meet and live with her stepfather, the sadistic and cruel Captain Vidal, in an old mill. During the night, Ofelia meets a fairy and together they go to a pit in the center of a maze where they meet a faun that tells that she is a princess from a kingdom in the underground. He also tells that her father is waiting for her, but she needs to accomplish three gruesome, tough and dangerous assignments first. Meanwhile, she becomes friend of the servant Mercedes, who is the sister of one of the rebels and actually is giving support to the group. In a dark, harsh and violent world, Ofelia lives her magical world trying to survive her tasks and sees her father and king again.

  • Ofelia's love of fairy tales is obvious from the beginning of El Laberinto del fauno. Set in the not so tranquil Spanish woodlands of World War Two, where a small band of anti-Falangist rebels are hiding out. This is where Ofelia and her pregnant mother have come to live, in the company of Capitán Vidal, Ofelia's new stepfather and soon to be father of her half-brother. It is with the brutal, unforgiving and totalitarian idealist Capitán Vidal, and his Falangist troops, who must weed out these resistance fighters of the hills and woods, that Ofelia finds her release and distraction of the new world order and its warring factions and delves into the older, mysterious and enchanting world of fairies, faun's and giant frogs. Beautiful, charming, graphic and deadly. El Laberinto del fauno.

  • Set in Spain during World War II. This is the story of a young girl named Ofelia. She is a girl who has a passion for fairy tales, which causes her to see one during her trip on the forest that is not quiet. She goes to her stepfather's home in the country along with her pregnant but sickly mother, he is the sadistic Captain Vidal. Ofelia creates an imaginary world of her own to escape the cruel and harsh realities of the world. When she encounters a faun, she must complete three tasks in order to obtain immortality according to the legend of a princess.

  • The story takes place in Spain, a few years after The Civil War, which ended in 1939 with General Franco emerging victorious and taking over as Dictator of Spain. The Resistance has fled into the forests, but are looking to bounce back at any opportunity. Amidst this setting, the narrative of the film intertwines the real world with a mythical world centered on an overgrown abandoned labyrinth and a mysterious faun creature, with whom the main character, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), interacts. Ofelia meets several strange and magical creatures who become central to her story, leading her through the trials of the old labyrinth garden. On successful completion of her tasks, Ofelia bears the chance to attain immortality by ascending the high throne of the underworld as Princess Moanna. Parallely running, is the story of Captain Vidal (Sergi Lopez), the son of a brave Commander who died in a battle in Morocco, who is posted on an Army outpost in the forest surrounded by the Resistance men. He takes Ofelia's mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) as his wife, after the death of Ofelia's father. There is state control over the rations to prevent it from reaching the Resistance men hiding in the forests and amidst this he plays an evil character who is impossible to defend. Mercedes (Maribel Verdu), Vidal's housekeeper, who is secretly supporting the rebels is also supported by Dr Ferreiro (Alex Angulo) in her mission. Midway in the movie, The Resistance, in a stroke of brilliance, are able to overpower the men at the outpost and gain access to the rations leaving the Captain and his men dumbfounded. This incident in the movie, shifts the tide in favor of the Resistance. Soon after, Vidal discovers that his housekeeper Mercedes is a spy. Ofelia is locked in her bedroom, and Mercedes is taken to be tortured. However, she frees herself, stabs Vidal, and rejoins the rebels. The faun returns to Ofelia and tells her to bring her baby brother into the labyrinth. Vidal pursues her. The faun tells Ofelia that opening the portal to the underworld requires the blood of an innocent. The faun suggests a few drops of her baby brother's blood. Ofelia refuses to harm her brother; for further disobeying his orders, the faun refuses to help her. Vidal finds Ofelia talking to someone (the faun) whom Vidal cannot see. Vidal takes the baby from her arms and fatally shoots Ofelia; then, when he reaches the labyrinth's entrance, he is surrounded by the rebels who have taken over the outpost. Knowing that he will be killed, he hands the baby to Mercedes. One of the rebels kills Vidal. The movie ends with drops of Ofelia's blood falling down the center of the spiral stone staircase onto an altar. Ofelia then appears in a golden throne room. The king of the underworld says that she passed the final test, which was to choose to spill her own blood rather than that of her baby half-brother.

  • In 1944 Spain young Ofelia and her ailing mother arrive at the post of her mother's new husband, a sadistic army officer who is trying to quell a guerrilla uprising. While exploring an ancient maze, Ofelia encounters the faun Pan, who tells her that she is a legendary lost princess and must complete three dangerous tasks in order to claim immortality.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • An unseen narrator (Pablo Adán's voiceover) tells of an underground kingdom that was devoid of lies or pain. Long ago, the young princess of the realm escaped, curious to see the world above, but was blinded by the bright sunlight and all memories of her past were erased. She eventually succumbed to the natural world as her inability to adapt to her new surroundings left her helpless. Her father, the King, remained hopeful that his daughter would return to her kingdom someday, in another place and time.

    Spain; 1944. The Spanish Civil War has been over for five years but small groups of guerrilla rebels continue to fight against the new fascist dictatorship led by Francisco Franco. Ten-year-old Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a quiet lover of books and fairy tales, is travelling with her mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil), to the rural village of Navarra where Carmen's new husband, Captain Vidal (Sergi López), an officer of Franco's army, is stationed with his men at an old mill. Carmen is heavily pregnant with Vidal's child. Ofelia's father, a tailor, had died during the war.

    When Carmen and Ofelia arrive at the mill, stern Vidal shows little concern for his new stepdaughter but takes great care to ensure that Carmen's pregnancy progresses smoothly. He commissioned a local doctor, Ferreiro (Alex Angulo) to stay at the mill and tend to Carmen. Ofelia wanders off to the nearby woods where she discovers a strange stone structure. She is found by Vidal's housekeeper, Mercedes (Maribel Verdú), who explains that the structure is an ancient labyrinth that Ofelia should not enter, lest she get lost. Mercedes gently ushers Ofelia back to the house.

    Ofelia and Carmen settle into their bedroom. Dr. Ferreiro speaks with Vidal in his study, explaining that Carmen should not have traveled in such a late stage of an already difficult pregnancy. It becomes increasingly obvious that Vidal only values Carmen as a vessel for his child, which he is certain will be a son to carry on his name. Vidal's tyrannical temper is revealed that night when he brutally murders two peasants whom his men mistook for rebel fighters, but who were merely farmers hunting for rabbits. Vidal realizes this after the men are dead, but blames his soldiers for the error, barking that they should "learn to search these assholes properly" before consulting him.

    That night, Ofelia sleeps beside her mother. In the middle of the night she is woken by the sound of fluttering wings and beholds a large insect she'd spotted during the the journey to the mill. After Ofelia shows the insect what she considers a fairy to look like in a book, the insect transforms into a tiny humanoid fairy, and gestures to Ofelia to follow it. It leads her outside to the stone labyrinth. When Ofelia reaches the underground center of the maze,she is greeted by a faun, (Doug Jones, voiced by Pablo Adán), a supernatural creature that is half-man, half-goat. He explains to Ofelia that she is really the long-lost Princess Moanna from the underground realm. The faun explains that he had been sent by the King to bring her home, but that she must first prove herself worthy of returning.The faun presents Ofelia with a magic book that will detail three tasks which she must complete by the next full moon. The first task, he explains, is to retrieve a key from the stomach of a giant toad that lives beneath a fig tree in the forest. He gives her three magic stones which she must feed to the toad. He also tells Ofelia to look for a moon-shaped birthmark on her shoulder that identifies her as the princess.

    Meanwhile, Mercedes and Dr. Ferreiro are risking their lives by secretly aiding the group of rebels hiding in the woods, one of whom is Mercedes' brother Pedro (Roger Casamajor). Since Vidal had decided to starve out the rebels by keeping all available food and medicine locked up in the mill's storeroom, Mercedes and Ferreiro must smuggle the goods silently in the dead of night. Both are all too aware of the sadistic violence Vidal inflicts upon those who disobey him.

    Captain Vidal is hosting a banquet at the mill for some local political figureheads.Carmen expects Ofelia to attend, and presents her with a beautiful new dress and shoes for the occasion. Ofelia accepts the gifts with lukewarm gratitude, as she is distracted by the thought of the first task. As Ofelia prepares to take her bath, she examines the magic book, which informs her that the task must take place that day.

    Shortly before the dinner party, wearing her new clothes, Ofelia escapes to the woods. She finds the fig tree and crawls into the cavern below. She manages to feed the magic stones to the enormous toad, which vomits out its insides. Ofelia finds the key amid the sticky mess, and departs. She returns to the house, her new dress ruined. Carmen sends her to bed without supper.

    During the banquet, Vidal's rigid views become apparent. He vows not to rest until every rebel is shot dead. The town mayor (Juanjo Cucalón) recalls being in the army with Vidal's father, who, upon his death, smashed his watch on a rock to ensure that his son would know the exact time of his demise. Vidal dismisses this, claiming that his father never owned a watch (though he is seen several times meticulously cleaning an old broken pocketwatch in his study).

    Despite her punishment from her mother, Ofelia is pleased with her success at completing the first task. Checking on the magic book again while taking a bath, blood-red ink begins to spread over the page in the shape of a womb. A thud is heard in the bedroom and Ofelia finds her mother collapsed on the floor, hemorrhaging from her uterus and begging for help. Dr. Ferreiro stabilizes Carmen with a powerful sedative and informs Vidal that the outlook for his wife is grim: she must remain on strict bed rest. Vidal orders the doctor to save his son, even at the expense of his wife's life. Ofelia is sent to a separate bedroom and is comforted by Mercedes, who has become Ofelia's friend and protector as Carmen grows weaker and weaker.

    Vidal and his men continue to hunt for rebels in the forest. While examining a recently abandoned campsite, Vidal finds a small glass vial of antibiotics, which he eyes suspiciously before pocketing.

    During the night, the Faun appears in Ofelia's room and asks why she has not begun the second task yet. Ofelia explains that her mother is not well. The faun gives her a mandrake root, explaining that, when placed under her mother's bed in a bowl of milk and fed with drops of blood, it will improve her health. Ofelia obeys, feeding the the humanoid mandrake under Carmen's bed with her blood from her finger. Carmen's condition quickly improves, and Ofelia is now free to begin her next task.

    That night, Ofelia is again visited in her room wall by the Faun who gives her instructions for her second task, which involves invading the lair of a feared monster and retrieving a golden dagger. Above all things, Ofelia is warned explicitly to not eat any of anything from the enormous feast that she will find laid out on a table within the lair. The Faun gives Ofelia a piece of magic chalk, an hourglass, and the aid of three fairies. She is to use the chalk to draw a magic door leading to the monster's lair, flip the hourglass, and return with the dagger before the last grain of sand falls.

    After forging the other-worldly door through her bedroom wall, Ofelia follows a hallway to a large room where a magnificent feast is set out on a large table. At the head of the table sits a child-eating creature known as the Pale Man (Doug Jones), completely motionless, with two eyeballs set on a plate front of him. Ofelia finds that the creature is immobile and doesn't respond to her presence. On the walls she sees hideous paintings of the Pale Man devouring children, and a large pile of children's shoes in a corner of the room. On the far wall are three cabinet doors,one of which she unlocks with the key she retrieved from the toad, and removes the desired dagger from within. As she begins to leave, she pauses beside the table and eyes a platter of grapes. Enchanted by the food and very hungry, she ignores the previous warnings of the Faun's and the present warnings of the fairies. Ofelia plucks a grape from the bunch and eats it. The fairies frantically try to alert her as the Pale Man jolts awake, inserting the eyeballs into sockets in his palms. Not seeing this, Ofelia eats another grape before she turns to see the Pale Man approaching her. The fairies try to distract the creature but he grabs two of them and eats them. Horrified, Ofelia runs with the last fairy. The Pale Man chases Ofelia down the hallway. In horror, she notices the chalked doorway closing as the hourglass runs out. However, Ofelia manages to draw another doorway in the ceiling and barely escapes back into her room.

    Mercedes and Ferrerio make another dangerous visit to the rebels in the woods, bringing them supplies from the storeroom. One of the rebels, Francés (Gonzalo Uriarte), is suffering a from an infection in his leg from a bullet wound. Doctor Ferreiro determines the leg must be amputated before gangrene spreads beyond it, and takes on the unpleasant task in the rebel hideout.

    The Faun revisits Ofelia in her room and she gives him the dagger, but admits that something went wrong during the second task. The remaining fairy guide angrily whispers in the Faun's ear, explaining Ofelia's disobedience. He admonishes her for her recklessness and tells her that, with the full moon only three days away, she may never prove herself worthy of returning to her kingdom. He vanishes, leaving Ofelia alone and in misery.

    The next day, loud crashing sounds are heard though the woods. Vidal assembles his men and they rush into the woods to confront what they assume to be attacking rebels, but discover a derailed train, an apparent decoy move, and no rebels in sight . Vidal returns to the mill to find that the storeroom is missing a large amount of supplies. He also sees that the lock is not broken or tampered with. This leads him to suspect Mercedes, since she carries the only key to the storeroom. He questions her, but she assures him that she had nothing to do with it.

    Vidal and his men finally have a direct shootout with the rebels one rainy day in the forest. They callously shoot all the seriously wounded men they find, but when they discover a rebel sustaining only a leg wound, they haul him to the storeroom for interrogation. Mercedes soon learns that a rebel has been captured for torture, and rushes to the storeroom in fear that it is her brother Pedro. Mercedes catches a glimpse of the man's desperate face before the door swings shut and sees that the unfortunate prisoner is not Pedro, but an associate nicknamed Tarta (Ivan Massague).

    Vidal casually shows Tarta the array of tools that he will be using to "extract" information about the rebels. Noticing that Tarta speaks with a heavy stutter, Vidal taunts him with a proposition: if Tarta can count to three without stuttering, he will be set free. Vidal addresses his second-in-command, Garcés (Manolo Solo), who confirms Vidal's power to release him. Tarta attempts Vidal's challenge, but fails. Vidal begins the torture.

    Dr. Ferreiro is later summoned to the storeroom by Vidal, who wants him to strengthen Tarta for another round of interrogation. Ferrerio is horrified to see Tarta reduced to a broken, bloody pulp who is begging for death. Ferrerio gently euthanizes the poor man, angering Vidal, who fatally shoots Ferrerio as he departs the storeroom. Vidal had also discovered vials of antibiotics in the doctor's case that were identical to the ones found at the rebel campsite, confirming Ferrerio's involvement in aiding the rebels.

    Later, Ofelia checks on the mandrake beneath her mother's bed. She is interrupted violently by Vidal, who discovers the mandrake root with disgust. Carmen wakes and Vidal shoves the milk-soaked mandrake into her hands, chastising her for letting Ofelia read fairy tales and get silly ideas. Carmen insists on speaking to Ofelia alone, and Vidal leaves them. Though Carmen and Ofelia had a close and loving relationship, Carmen's sad and dismal view of the world made a sharp contrast with her daughter's optimistic innocence. Carmen attempts to prove to Ofelia that magic does not exist, and throws the mandrake root into the blazing fireplace. Moments later, Carmen collapses in pain. The mandrake, which had become the embodiment of Carmen's health, is destroyed in the flames.

    Carmen is dragged into a harrowing labor which she does not survive. She delivers a healthy son, which is satisfaction enough for Vidal, but Ofelia is devastated by her mother's death.

    Now orphaned and at the mercy of her evil stepfather, Ofelia's only ally is Mercedes. Ofelia admits to Mercedes that she knows that she and the doctor had been helping the men in the woods, but swears to keep the secret to herself. Vidal summons Mercedes to his study that night, casually musing about how the storeroom could have been opened so easily when she had supposedly given him the only key some time before. Mercedes, knowing that Vidal has discovered her secret, prepares to escape the mill that night. She stops by Ofelia's room to say goodbye, but ends up bringing her along as the girl begged not to be left alone at the mill.

    Mercedes and Ofelia attempt to escape that rainy night, but are quickly apprehended by Vidal and his men. Vidal drags Ofelia back to her bedroom, furious that she had known about Mercedes and Ferrerio aiding the rebels. He locks her in her room, giving his men orders to kill her if anyone tries to break in. He then returns to the storeroom, where Mercedes has been brought and bound for torture.

    Vidal begins the same speech he gave to Tarta, showing Mercedes the various tools he will use to extract information from her. While his back is turned, Mercedes cuts through her binds with a small paring knife kept hidden in her apron and attacks Vidal, plunging the blade into his back and then shoving it into his mouth. She furiously warns him not to harm Ofelia, and then slashes the knife through the side of his cheek before fleeing into the forest. Vidal, not quite incapacitated, orders his men to bring her back at once.

    Mercedes arrives at a clearing in the woods before several of Vidal's men catch up to her on horseback. Garces tauntingly approaches her, but a barrage of shots ring out from the surrounding trees, shooting all the men off their horses. The surviving rebels emerge from the woods, led by Pedro, who embraces his sister as she weeps with relief.

    Locked away in her room, Ofelia is visited again by the Faun. He has decided to grant her one last chance to prove herself as Princess Moanna. He tells her that the third and final task is to fetch her infant brother and take him into the center of the labyrinth. Ofelia escapes her bedroom using the piece of magic chalk and sneaks into Vidal's quarters where the baby boy is kept. Ofelia takes a bottle of sedative previously administered to her mother by Ferrerio and hides in Vidal's room, watching him sew up the horrid gash in his cheek. While he is distracted, Ofelia drugs his glass of scotch heavily with the medicine. As he drinks, gunfire and explosions erupt as the rebels begin an attack on the mill. Vidal rushes to the doorway but begins to stagger as he begins feeling the effects of the drugs. Vidal makes out the bleary image of Ofelia standing in the doorway holding the baby, who she had gently taken from his cradle. Vidal stumbles after Ofelia as she runs to the labyrinth with her brother.

    When Ofelia reaches the center of the labyrinth with the baby, the Faun is waiting for her with the dagger from the Pale Man's lair. The Faun explains that the full moon is nigh and that the portal to the underground realm, Princess Moanna's kingdom, must be opened with the blood of an innocent. He says he needs a drop of blood from the baby-just a pinprick-to open the portal and return Ofelia to her true home. Ofelia staunchly refuses to let her baby brother be harmed in any way, and insists she would give up her chance at entering the heavenly kingdom for him. Vidal finally catches up to her and sees her talking to nothing but air. He forcibly takes the baby and shoots Ofelia in the stomach before departing the labyrinth. As Ofelia begins to bleed out, she collapses onto the stone portal in the bottom of the maze. Her blood begins to drip into the portal, and she faintly smiles as her body becomes still.

    Vidal exits the labyrinth with the baby, only to be met by a score of armed rebels (including Mercedes) waiting for him. Knowing he cannot escape them now, he calmly hands his son to Mercedes, asking her to tell him one day what time is father died. Before he can finish his last request, Mercedes firmly assures him that the boy "won't even know your name." Pedro then shoots Vidal in the face, leaving him dead at the entrance to the labyrinth.

    Mercedes and the rebels rush into the labyrinth and find Ofelia bleeding out into the stonework. Mercedes weeps uncontrollably as Ofelia draws her last breath.

    As Ofelia leaves the mortal world, she is transported to a grand hall and sees both her parents, alive again, sitting atop tall thrones. She has been called home as Princess Moanna at last, to be reunited with the King and Queen. The Faun appears and explains that the last "task" was a test of honor and integrity. Because Ofelia offered her own blood to open the portal instead of her brother's, she proved herself brave and kindhearted enough to re-enter the underground realm.

    The narrator explains that Princess Moanna became the eventual beloved ruler of the realm, and that small traces of her time in the mortal world are still visible, but only to those who know where to look.

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