Sunday, March 11, 2007

Yay Fauns

Last night I went to see Pan's Labyrinth; a rather beautiful and weird film set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. In the story the central character, a young girl named Ofelia, is led to an underground labyrinth where she meets a frightening creature, a faun, who tells her she can become a princess of the underground if she completes three tasks.

Ofelia's fantastical journey is interspersed with her 'real' life; her anxieties about her ailing, pregnant mother and the misery of a brutish stepfather. In the end it is Ofelia's belief in the good that saves her. This is a fairytale, after all; there is a happy ending. But it is not a happy ending that comes without struggle. Ofelia's child-ish-ness is apparent in her willingness to trust as far as it seems the faun is trustworthy, but her faith in the good is not unshakable. Her mother's fatalistic view of life has not overtaken Ofelia but you get the impression that this is due to a conscious decision on Ofelia's part to hope in something better. It is not her naivety that brings her home, it is her faith, her imagination.

As I thought about this on the way home I remembered something Jesus said about no-one being able to enter the kingdom of heaven unless they came as a little child. Perhaps this is something like what he was getting at; that imagination is to be given more respect than we as adults normally afford it; that perhaps hope and faith and imagination are all part of the same life-giving gift, and that perhaps this gift is within us, waiting for our child-ish-ness to catch hold.

Since Ana's birth I have been obsessed by the idea that the physical and spiritual are more a part of the same thing than I once thought. I woke up this morning with one arm by my side and one arm (freezing) stretched out above my head and it made me think of Raphael's School of Athens.

It's a good movie. May our souls keep getting younger.