The Spirit of the Beehive DVD
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Directed by Victor Erice
Produced in 1973
Main Language - SPANISH with English subtitles
A remarkable and memorable story of a child's innocence amid post war trauma. Ana Torrent gives a magical performance as a young girl adjusting to the new Fascist rule, her view of the world coloured by seeing Frankenstein in a travelling cinema. Hailed world-wide by critics, it is thought-provoking, lyrical and deeply moving. One of Time Out's best 100 films of all time.
Publisher: Optimum Releasing
Length: 97 mins
Cat No: OPTD0036
Format: DVD Colour
- stills gallery.
by Graeme Hobbs on 2nd September 2003
It is remarkable that one of the most sympathetic evocations of a child's wonder and experience of the world is at the same time a political allegory of life under Fra... Read on
It is remarkable that one of the most sympathetic evocations of a child's wonder and experience of the world is at the same time a political allegory of life under Franco made under his censorship laws. Taking as its starting point the screening of 'Frankenstein' in the hall of an isolated village, the film develops as a meditation on the power of the imagination to counter suspicion and inertia by showing us how young Ana tries to make sense of what happens to the 'monster' in Whale’s 1931 film. She has no-one to turn to for answers. Her parents have withdrawn into private worlds, and her sister deceives her. She learns that she must trust her own imagination, and in doing so becomes an obscure hope for the future.
The opening credits of the film are revealing in that they are both simple and entirely meaningful, introducing us through children's drawings to the main characters, objects and symbols of the film. This is part of the film's magic, that a whole symbolic world can be presented through the children's world of shadow play and whispering, pillow fights and playing dead.
The Spirit Of The Beehive reveals its secrets slowly and there is much to admire: eight year-old Ana Torrent’s remarkable performance; the dreamlike atmosphere aided by the tense, ethereal music that breaks in on the silence, the magnified sounds and the setting of a washed-out plain beneath an overcast white sky; the wordless scenes that lay bare a world of trust and suspicion, accusation and authority; the work of the virtually blind cinematographer Luis Cuadrado; the way the film is suffused with symbolism that is always one step to the side of our immediate understanding (though the Doctor Frankenstein / Franco association, both with creations gone awry is fairly clear). Finally though, the film is a paean to the power of the imagination in repressive times, an imagination that can circumvent censorship in the most beautiful ways imaginable.
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