Sunday, 10 April 2011

Pan’s Labyrinth – Hero Monomyth – Semiotics – Hermeneutics & Tropes

The film poster of Pan’s Labyrinth will be the subject of my attempt at combining a few of the elements of what we have learnt in this module and use of previous blogs.
The first order message is that of denotation, the common sense, the obviousness of the image. The tree is one of the first areas that we decipher, it’s gnarled almost muscular branches giving the feeling of unkindly strength and this in turn is cradling the moon, finally the girl stood before this dramatic scene, our protagonist, all of is in a wash of blue dark night. Also the small branches that frame the whole image gives also gives a sinister feel and makes us feel we are looking in to another world that the girl, first hand, is looking into.

The second order message, the signifieds of the signifiers, the connotations, the denotations is what the image is and the connotations is how it is presented, the tree being old, holding secrets, the moon linked to that of lunar activities, werewolves, witches, thus giving us by the connotations of a sense of foreboding. All of this, as stated, is in the dark, giving this the supernatural twist, yet at the bottom of the tree is green grass, the only colour breaking the darkness, giving a sense of hope and fruition.

The third message or third order of signification is that of the myth, these can be described as metaphors, either cultural or social, generated by the layering of older myths; although there may not me a clear historical myth within this film, it is itself a myth created by the knowledge of other myths, the anthology of storytelling, in this case, coming of age, how children think and deal and adapt with the situations around them.

From the Hero Monomyth perspective, using the image from an earlier blog:

The twelve steps:
  1. Ordinary world – The girl living in 1944 with her mother and stepfather.
  2. The Call to adventure – a fairy takes her to see a faun in an old labyrinth.
  3. Refusal of the task – this is not dealt with as the young girl likes fairy tales and follow the fair.
  4. Meeting with the mentor – Meets the faun, explains his and her position and gives her a book plus 3 tasks to complete.
  5. Crossing the first threshold – Into the tree.
  6. Test, allies & enemies:
    1st test -she has to kill a frog to retrieve a key from its belly, get filthy told of by mother and then stepfather.
    2nd test – use the key to retrieve an ornate dagger, but is chased by a child eating man.
    3rd test – take her baby brother to the labyrinth.
  7. Approach to the inmost cave – Finally at the labyrinth but girl has to hand over baby for its blood needs to be used.
  8. Supreme ordeal – Refusal of the handover of the baby to the faun – stepfather takes baby – fatally shoots the girl.
  9. Reward – girls own blood drips on to the labyrinth floor thus completing the task.
  10. The road back – her dying takes her to her parents.
  11. Resurrection – reborn in the fairy kingdom.
  12. Return with the elixir – this is not used however the happily ever after scenario is used.
Regarding the hermeneutics of the story the area and time is 1944 war torn Spain, rebels in the wood not far from the village causing her stepfather problems and the girls pregnant mother, which has its own fatal complications, all adding to crate diversions.

The Syntagmatic structure clearly plays its part here via various kernels, namely the twelve monomythic steps, each crating it's own enigma, plot creation and part resolution, mainly and cleverly utilised by the three internal tests given; satellites are prevalent due to the involvement of the wood based guerrillas and internal conflicts, forged friendships and the revealing of loyalties within the house.

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