This article analyzes the narrative function of the fantastic in two commercial Spanish language movies, Guillermo Del Toro’s 2006 Pan’s Labyrinth and Juan Antonio Bayona’s 2007 The Orphanage, to compare how they encompass and reflect aspects of hauntological theory. The movies show how Ofelia and Laura embrace the fantastic to acquire knowledge and agency by deliberately communicating with specters. Through acknowledging the epistemological implications of the fantastic, deliberate disobedience and self-sacrifice, Ofelia and Laura are able to liberate themselves from a repressive present and envisage a more optimistic future for others too. Hauntological discourse in both films ultimately functions as an allegory for Spain’s ongoing efforts to come to terms with its own historical trauma.

Bio Note

Timothy P. Reed is a professor of Spanish at Ripon College who teaches language, literature, and history courses with a particular focus on 20th century peninsular culture. He holds a B.A. in Music and Spanish from Dickinson College, an M.A. in Spanish from the University of Delaware, and a Ph.D. in Peninsular literature from Penn State University.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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