Tuesday, June 4, 2013



I have often used music videos and youtube clips in the classroom. For example, one of my favorite is to show U2’s “Until the End of the World” after reading the synoptic accounts of Jesus arrests and discussing the political and apocalyptic meaning of Jesus' execution. One movie that I would love to have the opportunity to use at some point is Guillermo del Toro's Pan’s Labyrinth as a way to teach the genre of apocalypse.
John Collins notes the defining characteristics of apocalyptic literature:
"An apocalypse is a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial, insofar as it involves another, supernatural world." (Semeia 14 [1979]:9)

An aspect not noted here is that apocalypse is most meaningful, or perhaps only meaningful during crisis, for it provides hope for escape. Pan’s Labyrinth fits the genre of apocalypse perfectly.


Ofelia, who suffers because of war, the cruelty of her stepfather and the pain of her ill and pregnant mother, is guided by a faun through quests which lead her into another world. Through his guidance, as well as assistance from fairies and The Book of Crossroads, Ofelia begins to learn that she is a princess from long ago. After the death of her mother, she eventually escapes to join her mother and father who are the king and queen of the underworld.

A number of smaller elements characteristic of apocalyptic literature can be found in Pan's Labyrinth as well, such as the importance of the book, the emphasis on history arranged into epochs, the presence of signs.

Ithica's Rachel Wagner has a great post on SBL's site that is along these same lines of thought, but focusing on the apocalyptic elements found in video games.



Isaac M. Alderman
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