How does cinematography affect atmosphere in the 2006 film Pan’s Labyrinth?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Cinematographer Guillermo Navarro used advanced computer-generated graphics to change the look and feel of the real world in Pan's Labyrinth. Extreme closeups, mood-setting wide shots, and switching between harsher desaturated light for the real world and warm light for the labyrinth all contribute to the atmosphere of the film.

One of Navarro's most useful techniques was the motion of the camera; in the real world, shots are composed and stable, cutting between fixed positions and often holding for longer periods. In the labyrinth, the camera is almost always moving, panning, and tilting, showcasing the strange fantasy world and the curiosity of the main character. With this definition of the boundaries between the real and fantasy worlds, Navarro gives the audience a visual cue as to the state of reality on screen, instead of using an obvious special-effects screen wipe or other overt technique.