Ritsumeikan Journal of Asia Pacific Studies
Online ISSN : 2432-4302
Print ISSN : 1344-4204
ISSN-L : 1344-4204
Analyzing Magical Realist Narratives through the Freudian Uncanny: Decontextualized Memories in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
José Rodolfo Avilés Ernult
ジャーナル オープンアクセス

2023 年 41 巻 1 号 p. 1-21


In its most basic use as a term, uncanny describes the experiences of eeriness, anxiety, ambiguity, confusion, and cognitive uncertainty. Freud’s definition of uncanny as ‘something which ought to have been kept concealed but which has nevertheless come to light’ (1919, p. 224), positions the uncanny close to his other concepts of anxiety and repetition compulsion. Similarly, magical realist cinema is a nascent genre, to address fantastic fiction which partakes in the convention of literary realism. However, the lack of a delimited corpus of films ascribed to the genre has limited its adoption as a theoretical/analytical concept. The paper, thus, addresses the theoretical incompleteness of Freudian uncanny and magical realism. To investigate how the uncanny cycle of trauma is embedded in magical realist narratives, this paper looks at Guillermo del Toro’s Pan's Labyrinth (2006) with the objective of identifying memories/tokens of trauma as intertextual images decontextualized from their original time/space and intruding/perceived as unsettling. The paper demonstrates how images manifest in narratives such as Déjà vu, doppelgangers, and ghosts; a staple of uncanny narrative which, by their lack of meaning and their reticence to being recontextualized, disrupt the cognition of new experiences.

© 2023 Ritsumeikan Center for Asia Pacific Studies