Thursday, 5 July 2012

Recently Published

My essay Reading the Monster in del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth has just been published in the latest edition of the Media Education Journal. The lengthy text provides a critical overview of del Toro's use of the monster and their potential biogrpahical connections to the director before providing an in-depth case study reading of the Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth. Here's a brief extract...

From his visual appearance alone, it is clear that the Pale Man is an inhuman grotesque from the perspectives of Hurley, Bakhtin, Stallybrass and Allon: his body recalls the human form that bulges not in fat but on the excess of wasted flesh, his skin sags from his arms and face, it gathers at his neck, breast, stomach and genital region. Compounding this sense of the visually grotesque are the Pale Man’s walking movements for they direct attention to the lower regions – as he chases Ofelia in an effort to both catch her and consume her, he does not run or walk but instead stumbles, staggers, lurches and drags himself forward in his pursuit.

The grotesque appearance and movements of the Pale Man are furthered by his acts of consumption. Stallybrass and White state that within the grotesque there is an emphasis upon the orifices of the human body, most notably the mouth and the nostrils. In the appearance of the Pale Man there is a prominence of the cranial, a visual strategy which stresses the lack of eyes and brings to the fore the Monster’s slack jaw, the loose, gathered flesh around the mouth, the dark and bloody opening of the mouth itself and the distorted black holes of the nostrils. This construction of the face suggests the role of the devourer, one whom Ofelia recognises through the murals in the banqueting room as the devourer of children: having looked both at the vast amount of sumptuous food laid out on the table and the Pale Man, Ofelia looks around the perimeter of the banqueting room’s ceiling. In a point-of-view shot, the camera pans across a series of circular murals as a non-diegetic sound effect of children crying is heard. The murals depict various scenes of the Pale Man chasing children, capturing them and either piercing their stomachs’ with a sword or consuming them alive.

To order a copy of the magazine, please follow this link.

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