In a fairy tale, Princess Moanna, whose father is the king of the underworld, visits the human world, where the sunlight blinds her and erases her memory. She becomes very ill and eventually dies; whereafter the king believes that her spirit will return to the underworld.nnIn post–Civil War Spain in 1944 (after Francisco Franco has come into power), protagonist Ofelia travels with her pregnant mother Carmen to meet Captain Vidal, her new stepfather and the father of Carmen's unborn child. Vidal, the son of a famed commander who died in Morocco, believes strongly in falangism and was assigned to conquer anti-Franco rebels.nnA large stick insect, which Ofelia believes to be a fairy, leads Ofelia into an ancient labyrinth; but she is stopped by Mercedes, Vidal's housekeeper, who is spying for the rebels. That night, the insect appears in Ofelia's bedroom, where it becomes a fairy and leads her through the labyrinth. There, she meets the faun, who believes her to be Princess Moanna and gives her three tasks to complete before the full moon to acquire immortality. Meanwhile, Vidal murders two individuals detained (incorrectly) on suspicion of cooperation with the rebels.nnOfelia completes the first task of retrieving a key from the belly of a giant toad, but becomes worried about her mother, whose condition is worsening. The faun gives Ofelia a mandrake root, which cures Carmen's illness and soothes her pain. Accompanied by three fairy guides, Ofelia then completes the second task of retrieving an ornate dagger from the lair of the Pale Man, a child-eating monster who sits silently in front of a large feast. Although she was gravely warned not to consume anything, she eats two grapes, awakening the Pale Man. He eats two of the fairies and chases Ofelia, but she manages to escape. Infuriated at her disobedience, the faun refuses to give Ofelia the third task.nnVidal tortures a captive rebel, and then kills the doctor — also a rebel sympathizer — who euthanizes the prisoner. Shortly afterwards, Vidal catches Ofelia tending to the mandrake root. Carmen throws it into the fire, where it writhes and screams in agony. Carmen immediately develops painful contractions and dies giving birth to a son. Vidal discovers that Mercedes is a spy. Ofelia is locked in her bedroom, and Mercedes is taken to be tortured; however, she frees herself, injures Vidal, and rejoins the rebels.nnThe faun returns to Ofelia and tells her to take her baby brother into the labyrinth. Ofelia steals the baby after sedating Vidal, who pursues her through the labyrinth while the rebels successfully attack the mill at which he is stationed. The faun tells Ofelia to open the portal to the underworld by sacrifice of her brother's blood, but Ofelia refuses to harm her brother; for further disobeying his orders, the faun leaves Ofelia to her fate. Vidal, finally reaching Ofelia, takes the baby and shoots her. On leaving the labyrinth, he is captured by the rebels. Knowing that he will die, he calmly hands Mercedes the baby and demands that Mercedes tell his son the exact time of his father's death. Mercedes replies that his son will never even know his name. Mercedes's brother Pedro kills Vidal.nnAs Mercedes enters the labyrinth and comforts the dying girl, drops of Ofelia's blood spill onto the adjacent altar, and Ofelia appears in a golden throne room. The king of the underworld explains that the last test was a trick, to ensure that Ofelia would sooner spill her own blood over that of an innocent. The queen of the underworld, her mother, invites Ofelia to sit by her father and rule at his side. The scene then cuts back to the labyrinth, where Ofelia, smiling, passes away above the altar. The epilogue completes the tale of Princess Moanna, stating that she ruled wisely and left quiet traces of her time on earth.…More
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