November 18, 2010
Captain Vidal stars as the Wicked Witch [review by starlight]
Pan’s Labyrinth is an incredibly brutal film that will make you feel the harshness of the world, particularly because of the contrast with a beautiful fantasy. There is a realist story intertwined with a fantastic one, where the world of the adults is dark, cruel and without any justice, and Ofelia, as a child, is able to access a just and beautiful world if she overcomes dangerous obstacles. Her part of the story is the Fairy Tale. Captain Vidal is the bad guy for both the realist of the Spanish Civil War and the fairy tale of Ofelia’s quest. His character really gets the idea across that there is no cosmic justice. Vidal represents the cold, irrational brutality of the world.
He is overly villainous, creating an aspect of the realist story that is bordering on the fantastic. Del Torro gives us a bleak, hopeless movie that will leave you feeling dark. In the realist portion of the story, Vidal is one-dimensionally evil with explicitly sinister motives – he’s a symbol for cruelty and lack of mercy in the world. One of the most memorable and gory scenes in the movie is when Vidal unjustly kills a man, and only afterwards checks the validity of the man’s story. His reaction upon finding out that it was true? He reprimands his soldiers: “Maybe you’ll learn to search these assholes properly before you come bothering me.” He shows no remorse. He’s unrealistically evil because he is an embodiment of injustice.
Vidal’s unrealistic cruelty and malevolence is more fitting to Ofelia’s fairy-tale.
The fairy-tale archetype that Vidal exemplifies can exert irrational cruelty in a fantasy story – wicked witches poison princesses and that’s just how it is. Just like the wicked witch, he has no hesitation or remorse for taking the life of Ofelia, just as cruel “fate” can senselessly take the life of a child. There is no meaning for the loss of an innocent.
Vidal commits acts of senseless, irrational and merciless violence. His character in both the realist story and the fairy tale embodies the idea of cosmic injustice. Tragedies occur without reason or meaning.