Sunday, October 21, 2007
31 Days of Halloween - Day 21 - Movie 2
"The Spirit of the Beehive" (1973) is the direct predecessor to Guillermo del Toro's two exceptional films "The Devil's Backbone" (2001)and "Pan's Labyrinth" (2006). This gorgeous, if languidly paced movie uses fantasy imagery to detail the effects of the Spanish Civil War on a small child. After a traveling cinema holds a showing of "Frankenstein" (1931) in a small village on the Castilian plain, Isabel (Isabel Telleria) convinces her younger sister, Ana (Ana Torrent) that the sprit of the Frankenstein monster inhabits an abandoned building beyond the village. Ana becomes obsessed with the monster and obsessed with death, determined to witness the monster for herself.
Beyond the children, this movie shows the effects of the Spanish Civil War on the townspeople, and Ana's family in particular. Everything is subtle, and most of the events, experienced through Ana's senses, remain unclear to us, as they would to a young child whose understanding of the world around her is limited. Torrent, and the rest of the cast are excellent in this film which has a real sense of dread building throughout, as every scene seems to inevitably build towards something tragic.
One such tragedy was that the cinematographer, Luis Cuadrado was slowly going blind during filming, and eventually did go blind and later committed suicide in 1980. This movie should not be missed.