Ofelia is not the princess, her sibling (who is not a boy, but a girl) is.Spoiler alert. Stay with me here. Part 1)After the child is born, we never heard anyone say what gender the baby is in any sort of authoritive capacity. Vidal is so obviously obsessed with having an heir that he won't entertain the notion of the child being a girl (The "Don't fuck with me" scene). We never saw Ofelia check, and if the baby never left Vidal's room after the birth, we might assume that Ofelia took Vidal's assertion at face value. The only discrepensy is that at the end (and possibly once or twice earlier), Mercedes gives her memorable line in which she calls the baby "he". This could be explained away by saying that Mercedes merely wanted to be pithy, not explain that the child is a girl to the deluded man. Part 2) The ending scene, as someone may have remarked below, smacks of duplicity on the part of the Faun. The theory: The Faun wanted Ofelia's blood to open the portal, through which he would take the Princess. He couldn't very well prick/stab/bleed Ofelia with the baby in her arms, and there is no way that Ofelia would set the child down, so the Faun wanted to grab the Princess, prick/stab/bleed Ofelia, and then leave her. This, of course, indicates that the last scene in the Fae-world is a hallucination or Imagine Spot of Ofelia's. It's in a distinctly different color tone than the other fey places; even the Pale Man's lair is a darker, burnished bronze than the finale's gleaming gold.
Ofelia's "father" is not actually her father.Spoiler alert. At the end of the film, after Ofelia quietly protests throughout that Captain Vidal is not her father, nor will she call him so, she is brought to the Underworld. She looks up and smiles and says, "Father." Cut to: An old man with white hair, who congratulates her and welcomes her home. Cut to Ofelia's biological mother, smiling proudly. Though it's not impossible, This Troper believes it's far more likely that Ofelia has been raised all her life by her mother and maternal grandfather, whom she calls "Papa" following her mother's example. Her biological father was never part of her life, but she never noticed or realized the discrepancy. This also beautifully subverts Captain Vidal's obsession with having a biological son to carry on his name and legacy - Ofelia's "father" carried on a legacy of love despite not being her biological father at all. Alternately, the man that greets Ofelia at the end of the film was totally unrelated to her, just a kind, reliable man that Ofelia's mother married when she realized she was pregnant without a husband. However, he did prove to be a wonderful father and caring husband, which also subverts Captain Vidal's philosophy.
Captain Vidal is actually a supernatural being, but with almost no knowledge of his true self.Though Vidal's father is known as a military leader of some repute, almost nothing is known or said of his mother: perhaps Vidal's conception involved a sordid affair with one of The Fair Folk, or perhaps he was an adopted orphan of supernatural stock. One way or another, this explains not only his mysterious ability to teleport from time to time, but also his high pain threshold and sadistic nature. However, since he has never learned to use his powers at anything beyond an instinctual level, he is unable to see anything magical in the area or even acknowledge his own teleportations. However, the soldiers under Vidal's command do notice, and fear him all the more for it.
Vidal's son is a some sort of supernatural reincarnation in his own right.Not only is he carved into the same pillar which has the engravings of the Faun and Ofelia, but he seems to have little horns on his brow in the relief. If those aren't a sign of supernatural heritage, I don't know what is.
The Faun and fairy world were evil all along...... and Ofelia wasn't really the Princess, and it really was just a fairy tale. After the way the Faun acts toward Ofelia, and all the arbitrary psychological abuse he puts her through, that was the ending I was expecting, and I think it makes more sense, even in light of the last scene. Is it possible that Ofelia's reuniting with her parents is a cruel deception that will be shattered by an intruding Hell or real death?
The supernatural creatures seen in the film are actually natives of the Cthulhu Mythos universe, and the Faun is Nyarlathotep.Obviously, Faun/Nyarlathotep wanted Ofelia reunited with her Eldritch Abomination parents for an upcoming scheme, and he also wants her to get rid of a few potential rivals along the way: so, to stop her from going completely insane, he protected her vision with illusions of fairy-tale creatures. By the end of the film, Ofelia has transformed into some Lovecraftian horror, two out of the three rivals have been killed, and there is a portal still open at the bottom of the labyrinth; either the Apocalypse is arriving earlier than expected, or at the very least, Spain will be experiencing some demonic infestation for months onwards.
It was all real, except the end.They really wanted her brother's blood. She failed them. The final scene is a hallucination brought on by blood loss and lack of oxygen. The Faun was telling the truth all along; they just wanted a little bit of blood, and there was no need to over-react like that. Everybody in Faerieland is laughing at her. She is dead, and no-one will know once Mercedes and the others in the Rebellion are slaughtered.
The fantastic elements are all in Ofelia's head; she creates them to give herself hope.Think about it. No one else can see the creatures (neither Vidal at the end nor her mother when throwing the mandrake root in the fire noticed the faun and the mandrake's screams, respectively). The first time she sees something magical is when she replaces the statue's eye; she easily could've fooled herself into believing that caused something magical, which later led to a chance to regain her kingdom. The worse her life gets, the more influence fantasy has (at first, she is led to the faun; the faun later comes to her). She is the only one who takes any notice of the mark on her shoulder, and she only seems to notice it after the faun mentions it. No one interacts with the key she finds in the toad, and she easily could have found chalk and fooled herself into believing that a faun gave it to her. Same goes for the mandrake; she could have found a random piece of wood and simply imagined that it moved. When she dies at the end, she is actually dying: she simply imagines herself in her "kingdom", which explains why she sees her mother in there.
Ofelia reincarnates into Sarah from Labyrinth.And her brother becomes Toby, who, in her new form, she lashes out at for assuming her rightful place in the goblin kingdom. She even has a stepmother in the future, if I remember correctly.
Mercedes made the tests when she was young, but failedShe lives next to the labyrinth. She knows about fauns. She has a younger brother. When she sees the chalkboard line on the wall near the end she immediately leads the rebels to the labyrinth.
The supernatural monsters Ofelia faces are reflections of the human monsters in the mundane worldThe Captain hosts a dinner party early in the film for his two particular friends: the local mayor, a businessman who has grown rich under the Fascist government and a churchman (a bishop, in fact) who, we can only assume, sees nothing unChristian in the behaviour of the regime. The first monster, the giant toad, is described as 'growing fat while the tree dies'. Much like a corrupt man profiteering off the misery of the war. He is the mayor.
The Pale Man is an ironic tormentor.His victims steal things from his table because they see that it's there and immediately determine it to be theirs for the taking. In a way, they "look" with their hands.
Ofelia will bring light to the Underworld.The movie says that the Underworld knew neither pain nor sunshine, and that is why the princess left. Now that the princess has been to the human world, and knows of both pain and sunshine, she will be able to share either as she chooses with her people.
The Faun is...