Those of you who have seen Pan's Labryinth will surely recall the scene where Captain Vidal, whose mouth had been sliced open like the Joker's, stands in front of a mirror and performs some self-surgery. So what was the point of that scene? Entertainment Weekly has a great new article called A Cut Above which dissected that scene in an interview with Director Guillermo del Toro.
Here are some highlights:
It's ironic that Vidal uses the same mirror we see him using to shave his whiskers earlier in the movie.
I actually made that exact point on the DVD commentary. It's the same mirror and the same blade that used to make him, if you want, beautiful, and now it shows him as ugly. In my mind, it echoes the evil stepmother in Snow White, asking the mirror, Who's the fairest one of all? Mirrors are fairy-tale elements, and I thought it would be very nice for this mirror to tell him, You're not the fairest of them all any more.
What made you follow the needle-and-thread bit with another shot of Vidal downing the alcohol and then bleeding through his cheek, which really freaks out audiences?
Because it defines him. You and I, if we accidentally forgot about a wound in our mouth and took a swig of alcohol, we would spit it out, scream, yell God damn it, run around, and of course not touch the stuff again. But this guy is so macho, so unstoppable, so into this strange sadomasochism, that he goes for another one. That effect was very neat. What we did was we put a very translucent, narrow little tube over his ear, down his cheek, and behind the gauze that covers the wound. We then pumped through it a mixture of alcohol, and we had a little bit of powdered blood hidden in the gauze. When the alcohol touched the powdered blood, it made this mess that was both yellow and red, which is for some reason extremely disgusting.