El espíritu de la colmena

El espíritu de la colmena

DVD - 2006 | Spanish
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Only dimly aware of the shadow of World War II somewhere beyond the Castilian plateau, sisters Isabel and Ana must occupy themselves as their preoccupied scientist father and isolated, languishing mother move in their solitary orbits. After attending the screening of James Whale's "Frankenstein" at a makeshift movie theater in town, Ana becomes obsessed with the idea of befriending the imaginary monster. Largely wordless, the film functions as a striking trompe l'oeil about childhood imagination versus the wider perspective of the adult world.


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Tragic and visually stunning, this film conveys a child's innocent, fanciful misreading of the events around her at the end of the Spanish Civil War. The severe countryside, oppressive interiors, and haunting story recreate the menacing, secretive postwar atmosphere. Like older art film masterpie... Read More »

The aftermath of the Spanish Civil War as seen through the eyes of a very imaginative and sweet little girl. Amazing that it was made and not censored during the reign of Franco. The censors thought it wouldn't amount to much anyway, so why bother? (Gail's pick)

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Jul 27, 2018

This film is considered one of the greatest to come out of Spain, and rightly so!

A little girl becomes fascinated with "Frankenstein" after watching the movie.

Splendid cinematography with beautiful interior colors and the outside filming wonderfully captures a bleak landscape.

Last, but certainly not least, it features an unforgettable, riveting performance by six-year-old Ana Torrent.

(Second disc includes a long interview with director Erice, who speaks very articulately on various subjects).

Jul 04, 2018

Set during the Spanish Civil War, this gorgeous film concerns a young child's nascent realization that the world is not as benevolent and secure as she once thought. Her haunting fantasy world is flawlessly juxtaposed with the harsh realities of life under a totalitarian regime, the resulting contrasts form the basis for some of modern cinemas most beautiful imagery. Universal and timeless.

Jul 03, 2018

Directed by Victor Erice in 1973, this Spanish drama explores the experiences of Ana, a six-year-old girl who, obsessed with a spirit, meets a monster in the woods.
It appears like an atmospheric exploration or a sketch of a child's experience withoput detailed explanation.
You definitely need some imagination to understand this poetic movie.

Aug 01, 2017

Lyrical, beautifully shot Spanish film about 2 young girls in a remote Catalonia village. it's the rare movie that is told almost entirely from a child's point of view, but without being cutesy or sentimental. It's also the rare movie the balances a fantasy feel (The girls see "Frankenstein" and take it a little too seriously.) with darker realism, as it's set in the Franco era. American audiences may find it slow, but it's a lovely movie. You can actually see some its influence in Guillermo del Toro's "The Devil's Backbone." Directed by Victor Erice and released in 1976.

Jun 17, 2016

the girls in this film are wonderful in their roles as sisters. one of the best movies I have watched this year.

Vincent T Lombardo Aug 16, 2015

Beautifully filmed, well acted movie about the dark side of childhood. However, it moves very slowly.

alacroux May 21, 2015

Must watch...

tsendler Jan 27, 2014

I returned this DVD to the Midtown Library on 1/24/14

Sep 09, 2013

i'd be the first to say that i am not a sophisticated filmgoer. I'm capable of passing the time watching garbage like 'we're the millers'. but i might watch a 'pallate cleanser ' now and then though. gather around, as i expound on my travels on the internet! one of my stops was the criterion site, through which i located a 'top ten' subsection. on it, many film directors, actors and others connected with the industry laid out their top ten films of all time. this film (beehive) was listed many times. because i had never heard of it, i was immmediately interested in tracking it down. it might yield some rewards, some of which i had experienced in the past with some classics i was not familiar with, the works of max ophuls, bunuel etc. i watched the film. i felt frustration. much of it was directed at myself and my inability to understand it. i needed to see jason sudeikas in funny situations at once haha. what i was aware of was a powerful experience - a glowing and naturalist performance by the 6-year old lead, beautiful imagery and composition. i immediately went online to glean further information on the film itself, as well as the context of its release. (1970s, the latter period of the dictatorship of franco in spain.) too often i have dismissed films out of hand by not knowing of the context of its release. after a day of absorbing this, i watched the film again, and had a profoundly different experience. i think that part of the resistance i was having with the film was its pacing. having become used to the fast editing of today's films/tv/commercials, i found the 'glacial' pacing of 'beehive' interminable. a mood is set, (melancholic) but to call it a mood piece is too easy. there are other things going on beneath, given the fascist regime context. the director had said (in an accompanying documentary with the dvd) that the authorities did not censor, and the film was left intact - they were unable to see any criticism towards the regime, much less understand the film they were viewing! it is a testament to the genius of the filmmaker that this was even possible. there is one handheld camera shot in the entire movie. the director says it was the most important shot in the film, possibly his film career. i won't spoil it by mentioning it here - you'll have to watch the film. but you'll know it when you see it. it struck me too, on first viewing. images of the film have haunted me, days and weeks after. i will be seeking this one again to rewatch in a few months. amazing peformances by all, esp. the children a la 'what maisie saw' - unaffected, seemingly unaware of the camera. filmmaking of the highest order.

Nov 20, 2012

I felt that I was cheated by the very promising premise. Yes. I could see that the child was a dreamer but not to the extent of being "haunted". Don't many children have wild imaginations? This was no different. Overrated.


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