Comparative Analysis Of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away And Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth

Directors and filmmakers invest many efforts to make films entertaining and worthwhile. This essay compares Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo Del Toro (2006) with Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki 2001. Both movies were created by the director’s imagination. Two girls’ journeys can be seen in two movies. Ofelia and Chihiro, the main characters in Pan’s Labyrinth, are both traveling to new destinations. However, neither of them are interested in going to those new places. The story opens with both girls entering a magical world. They are faced with many difficulties and problems. This essay will focus on the classic Hollywood narrative in both movies. Both films have a main character that must overcome many obstacles and meet several deadlines. Both movies also use the same filmmaking style, such as framing, mise-en-scene, and the roles of non-human and human characters. The movies follow a Hollywood-style narrative. Both movies have a main narrative that focuses on the girls. Both movies feature a chain of events which are connected to causes. The suspense is high because both movies feature girls as the main characters. They are trapped in a magical land and it draws the attention of the audience to the dangers they face. First, Pan’s Labyrinth sees Ofelia and her pregnant mother move to the place of her stepfather, an old mill. She is not fond of her new stepfather, and doesn’t want him to be her father. She prefers fairy tales. She feels abandoned and helpless when she moves to a new area. Ofelia is dependent on her stepfather and her mother, who are unable to walk. Ofelia discovers she is a princess in an underground realm when she begins to see magical fairies. A faun appears to her, but he is not human. He convinces her she is a princess of another world and gives her proof of her moon birthmark on her shoulder. Ofelia is also brave and doesn’t fear the dark or non-human world. Kermode shows how Ofelia enters the unknown world, despite the fact her guide is unreliable. Ofelia is a brave girl, and discovers a dark, magical world full of Ferries and Fauns. Even though she doesn’t like Fauns unattractive face, she trusts him. She is rebellious and will not believe anyone. Chihiro, the 10-year-old girl in Spirited Away has a fearful disposition and is hesitant to trust anyone. She is intelligent and tries her best to stop her parents from eating in an abandoned park. They are made into pigs by their parents for not listening to them. Here is the beginning of Chihiro’s brutal journey. This also reveals that parents have a greed for food, making them pigs. Chihiro sets out to save the parents and escape that world of high-spirited children where everyone forgets their identities. Ofelia needs to finish the tasks she has been given in order to become a princess back in her underground world. Both Ofelia and her father have set goals that must be met. Both movies use local traditional homes and natural areas as the setting. Spirited Away is set in an abandoned park, and the river is polluted. This movie focuses on the conflict between indigenous tradition and modern influences in Japanese culture. It also shows how modernism and environmental security have changed. A number of Japanese symbols are also visible in the film, giving us an insight into Japan’s culture. It is also possible to see how the audience greets and thanks people, bowing down in respect. Chihiro needs to find work in order for her to be safe. She meets Haku the mysterious, who is willing to help her. Haku teaches her how she can stay safe in this lively place. He provides her with instructions on how to find work and stay safe. Pan’s Labyrinth tells the story of a Spanish soldier in 1944, during World War II. You can see the army camp and the rebels fighting Captain (Orme 226). Both movies are the same, which highlights the issues that were local to each country at the time. Both movies feature little girls as the main characters. This is a sign that the directors are committed to feminism and are motivated to make movies with girls. The movie’s uniqueness is that the girls are not taken on a fairy tale-like journey. These movies do not feature princesses or princes, but instead they focus on the lives of ordinary girls. Both movies are representative of their cultures and countries. Spirited Away reveals the Japanese greetings. It also tells us about Japan’s history and abandoned park. The book also reveals the Shinto spirit belief. Zipes writes that Del Toro is extremely creative and imaginative. Zipes also mentions that Del Toro uses many camera angles. Both movies demonstrate the diversity of emotions and show that humans are imperfect. Both movies use a non-human character, Faun is a goat-like figure and his strange face and standing are highlighted. Pan’s Labyrinth shows Pan with a monster who has loosened skin and has creepy eyes embedded within his hands. Spirited Away characters and spirits are depicted in dark makeup and with loose, long black hair to highlight their differences. Makeups and techniques used make these characters appear scary and different from human beings. In summary, both movies have almost identical style and narrative. The unique stories in each movie attract attention and draw the audience’s attention. It conveys that innocence holds the power of evil that no one can imagine. Pan’s Labyrinth has the sad side that Ofelia dies, but she returns to her true world as a princess. Chihiro succeeds in her goals. The movie also shows the diverse group of people who play an important role in Chihiro’s escape. Due to their imagination and creativity, these movies made a lasting impression. Works cited

Bordwell, David. Kristine Thompson. Movie Art. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data, 1993.

Jaich, Ljubica Juve. “Caught between Two Worlds. Resolving Japan’s Modern Identity. Hayao Mikaziki’s Spirited Away (2001). UC Riverside: University Honours, 8 Dec. 2017, Accessed 2 August 2019.

Kermode, Mark. “Girl”. Sight and Sound, 2006, Accessed 1 August 2019.

Orme, Jennifer. “Narrative Desires and Disobedience In Pan’s Labyrinth.” Marvels & Tales. Vol. 24 no. 2, p219, 2010, pp. 219-234. EBSCOhost, Accessed 2 August 2019.

Pan’s Labyrinth, 2006. Guillermo Del Toro directs. Ivana Basquero, Ariadna Gill, Sergi Lopez and Doug Jones perform. Alliance Films, 2007.

The movie, Spirited Away, follows the journey of a young girl who is taken to a spirit world, and must save her parents from an evil witch. 2001. Director: Hayao Miyazaki. Performances by Rumi hiiragi, MiyuIrino and Mari Natsuki. Studio Ghibli 2003.

Thrupkaew, Noy. “Animation sensation: Why Japan’s Magical Spirited away Plays Well Anywhere.” (The Critics Film).” The American Prospect, 21 Oct. 2002, Accessed 2 August 2019.

Zipes, Jack. ”Pan’s Labyrinth (El Laberinto Del Fauno) Review”Journal of American Folklore, 2008, Accessed 1 August 2019.


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    Jackson Reynolds is an educational blogger who specializes in writing about topics such as education, parenting, and technology. He has been writing for over 10 years, and has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers. Jackson lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife and two children.