Since the emersion of Latin films into mainstream cinemas in the early 1980’s, there has been a great amount of detail shared about life in other countries. Whereas many of the topics are hard to watch, the worst is the involvement of children in the war. A child is a depiction of innocence at its purest form, and war is deadly, so when you mix the two it leaves the viewers in utter disbelief. The movies Pan’s Labyrinth and Innocent Voices show how children often fall victims in the war and their struggle to survive. Telling the story of war from the eyes of a child allows the viewers to see the true effects of war, free of bias. The directors, Guillermo Del Toro’s and Luis Mandoki wanted to tell a story of children and war, and both did so in their own ways.
Innocent Voices tells a story about a cruel war where children are often victims. This movie is a very real depiction of the horrors of the civil war in El Salvador during the 1980’s. The main character, Chava lived in an impoverished village in El Salvador. He resides with his mother, sister, and younger brother. When the war began his father left them to head to the United States, a cowardly way to avoid the war. Chava’s uncle, Beto would look in on the family when he could, but he was a guerilla and was hiding from the army. He tried to convince Chava’s mother to have him join the guerillas to avoid the sweep of the military, but she refuses thinking that she can keep him from being taken. The army would go to the school and take the boys who turn the age of twelve to join this cruel corrupt war. Despite the circumstances going on around him, he maintained a positive outlook and still at times portrayed the child that he was. He had his little girlfriend in school and was seen playing with his friends. One night at home, Chava and his little brother were playing war, shooting at each other having a good time. The game turned into reality as the bombs began to explode outside of their house and they had to hide under a table to avoid crossfire gun shots. As the war escalated school was canceled and Chava was left hiding from militant troops during routine sweeps. Time is running out so Chava and his friends join the guerillas to avoid being taken. One night their camp is ambushed by the Army where Chava and his friends were taken. The inhumanity of this war is depicted at its best when the children are taken down to the river, and two of Chava’s friends shot and killed by the Army. Chava’s life is spared as his uncle comes and stops them from shooting him. Innocent Voices is told very differently than Pan’s Labyrinth. It is more of a realistic story of cold hard war, where the only escape into a fantasy world is the little relief Chava gets in being a child. The times when he was chasing his little girl friend, hanging out with his friends, and playing guns with his little brother. It was a reminder that Chava was nothing more than a child being drug unwillingly into a violent, evil war. There were no fictitious characters or fantasy world that he could escape to, he found his ability to survive in the times where he was allowed to be the child that he was.
Pan’s Labyrinth is told very differently than Innocent Voices. It too is based around a cruel and violent war, but there is a very real fictitious world that is there as a form of escape. This movie takes place in Spain around 1944, just five years after the Spanish Civil War. The main character, Ofelia is a lover of fairytales and that shows throughout the entire movie. She is seen traveling with her pregnant mother, Carmen to live with her new step father, Captain Vidal. The Captain shows early on that he was controlling, violent, bloodthirsty, and corrupt. While traveling Ofelia find a fly like insect who she believes to be a fairy. She follows it to the abandoned labyrinth. This fairy and labyrinth stay with Ofelia throughout the entire movie. Captain Vidal was violently against the rebels and killed two peasants who were rabbit hunting because he thought they were part of the rebels. He showed no remorse when he found the rabbit, and realized they were nothing more than the peasants they claimed to be. Vidal’s house keeper, Mercedes, was very nice to Ofelia, but she secretly was an aid to the rebels. Ofelia is deep into her fairytale and is led in the middle of the night by a fairy to a faun, who gives her a book of crossroads. If she completed the three tasks she would turn into a princess and return to her father’s realm upon completing the three tasks. Carmen has complications in her pregnancy and Vidal instructs the doctor if he has to, save his son and kill the mother. Carmen dies and Ofelia is left to face the world basically alone, with Vidal and her new brother. Ofelia kidnaps the brother and runs to Labyrinth, where Vidal finds them and shoots Ofelia. Mercedes comes and takes the baby and kills Vidal. Ofelia sacrificing her life for her brothers was reunited her with her mom and dad. This story was told much different than Innocent Voices. There is a very real story intertwined with a very fictitious world. Ofelia escaped the violence in and out of her home by reverting to an imaginary world. The was a very bloody, violent war still going on all around her, but in her imagination that was all part of a mission to finding her princess status. In the end, the war cost her – her life, but in her fantasy she won the mission and died as the princess reunited with her family.