Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Spain, 1940.  In a tiny secluded village a young girl and her slightly older sister see a traveling road showing of FRANKENSTEIN.  The younger sister, Ana, is shaken by the film.  Later that night, the older sister tells Ana that the spirit of Frankenstein lives nearby in an old deserted livestock enclosure.  During the next few days (and nights) Ana sets out to locate the spirit.

There's much more to THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE than that quick synopsis, but if I say too much I'll ruin it for you.  To do the film justice you should just watch it and decipher it for yourself.  Hint: the film is set in the early days of the Franco dictatorship and there's a lot of symbolism going on.

Haunting imagery, thoughtful pacing, incredible childhood performance by Ana Torrent (one of the best I've ever seen), gentle sound design, subdued emotions, beautiful soft colors and confident direction by Victor Erice.  At first I was a little underwhelmed by the film (and it is rough around the edges), but then I put my thinking cap on  and...ahhh!  Wow.

Highly recommended for lovers of foreign art house cinema.

In the Criterion DVD's supplement material they mentioned some similar films to come out of Spain.  The most notable were: DEATH OF A CYCLIST (1955), THE HUNT (1966), THE GARDEN OF DELIGHTS (1970), ANA AND THE WOLVES (1973) POACHERS (1975), PASCUAL DUARTE (1976) and THE DISENCHANTMENT (1976).

For a more in-depth analysis here's an essay on the Criterion page.