Just watched "Pan's Labyrinth" last night. A good movie. But it made me wonder about stuff.
The fascists were bad. Nobody with even half-a-brain likes fascists. Even at the height of their influence, people knew that they were a hodge-podge of thuggery, insecurities, mindless devotion to traditions, and incoherent ideas about rigid and marked social inequality.
With the help of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy (and the hypocritical acquiesence of France, Great Britain, and the USA), Spain's Fascists managed to overthrow the legitimate government and install a decades-long dictatorship.
This film is a product of over three decades of post-fascist Spanish politics and culture. While there are a lot of fascist sympathizers in Spain, overt anti-fascist sentiments are strong, and the majority of the country probably finds fascism a tiresome embarrassment.
The anti-fascist resistance, "the people" are presented heroically. Fighting for equality, fighting for freedom. The embodiment of all that is decent and true. (It's a fairy tale after all.)
The truth of the matter is that these people were fighting for social equality. But how many of them sided with the Stalinists? How many of them, in support of their values, behaved as ruthlessly and brutally as the fascist captain in the film did for his values of religion, and traditional social hierarchies and militarism?
I myself believe that the proper response to a lawless, corrupt, and murderous government is revolutionary violence, and I don't delude myself into thinking that once the guns start firing people can still hold back from terror and cold brutality and unrestrained sadism.
Maybe we're all just deluded mortal animals, squabbling over the planet.
Or, maybe, some values really are more valuable than others.
Finally, I like how the movie ends. Did the little girl really return to her timeless kingdom or does she die hallucinating in the centre of the labyrinth? You can believe whatever you want to believe. Either one is okay. She's either rightfully returned to her magical family, or she died a young heroine who refused to sacrifice an innocent for her own personal gain and who retained the innocence of youth herself until her last breath.