The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)
"El espíritu de la colmena" (original title)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, Fantasy  |  5 January 1977 (France)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 11,291 users   Metascore: 87/100
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A sensitive seven-year-old girl living in 1940 in a small Spanish village is traumatized after viewing the movie "Frankenstein" and drifts into her own fantasy world.



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Complete credited cast:
Fernando Fernán Gómez ...
Teresa Gimpera ...
Isabel Tellería ...
Ketty de la Cámara ...
Milagros, la criada
Estanis González ...
Guardia civil
José Villasante ...
Juan Margallo ...
Laly Soldevila ...
Doña Lucía
Miguel Picazo ...


In Castilla around 1940, a traveling movie theatre brings James Whale's black and white film classic "Frankenstein" (1931) to a small village. Two young girls, Isabel and Ana, are subsequently determined to find the monster themselves. Written by Michael Crew <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Fantasy


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

5 January 1977 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Spirit of the Beehive  »

Box Office


ESP 43,269,044 (Spain)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Cinematographer Luis Cuadrado was going blind at the time this film was made. He eventually went completely blind and committed suicide in 1980. See more »


When the fugitive jumps from the train and rolls down the hill, he's wearing boots, but in the next shot he's wearing low-cut shoes. See more »


Ana: [unable to sleep] Isabel?
Isabel: [opening her eyes] What?
Ana: [whispering] Tell me what you were going to tell me.
Isabel: [whispering] About what?
Ana: The movie.
Isabel: Not now... Tomorrow.
Ana: Now... You promised. Why did he kill the girl, and why did they kill him after that?... You don't know - you're a liar.
Isabel: They didn't kill him, and he didn't kill the girl.
Ana: How do you know? How do you know they didn't die?
Isabel: Everything in the movies is fake. It's all a trick. Besides, I've seen him alive.
See more »


Referenced in Sodankylä Forever: Valon draama (2010) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The Magic of the Movies Through the Eyes of a Wide-Eyed Child
16 February 2006 | by (Queens, NY) – See all my reviews

"Spirit of the Beehive (El Espíritu de la colmena)" is a lovely insight into the mind of a child, where fantasy mixes with reality and stories with dreams. This is a beautiful metaphor for the magic of the movies and co-writer/director Víctor Erice illustrates the connection further by having the impact of the film "Frankenstein" with Boris Karloff on a young girl as the pivotal plot point.

Ana Torrent is a wide-eyed innocent who carries the film, as we completely enter into how she integrates her daily life, both the quotidian happenings and the unusual, with scary stories her older sister teases her with and with the film. Her beautiful eyes are expressive and haunting. As someone who had an older sister with all kinds of outlandish tales that were gullibly believed, the sibling teasing is the most natural I've seen on film.

Erice has a completely original take on the Frankenstein story, no matter how many times it has been referenced in other movies. "Ana" powerfully relates to the little girl in the film, even though she does not understand any of the darker emotions or outcomes. The film inspires her to seek out misfits and outcasts, with unintended consequences and impacts on the adult world.

The adult world is the weakest part of the film, or it's so heavy with symbolism about the 1940's period when the film takes place or of the end of Francoism in Spain when the film was made that it's lost for a viewer first seeing the film today. While sometimes the parents', teachers' and servants' behavior seems mysterious if we were just seeing it from her perspective, their obliviousness and self-involvement in their own intellectual and romantic pursuits aren't really explained, even as her father's pompous hobby somehow gives the film its title. It might be some sort of commentary on how adults have their own way of blending fantasy and reality or some other political commentary.

Seen in a new 35 MM print at NYC's Film Forum, the cinematography by Luis Cuadrado was stunning. The rural scenes of fields, forest and horizon --where dangers and threats always lurk beneath the pastoral--are beautiful, with simply gorgeous looking vignettes of childhood experiences.

I wonder if this insightful look inside a child's mind influenced such films as "I'm Not Scared (Io non ho paura)" and "Paperhouse." but the film seems so fresh and creative I was surprised that it was made in 1973.

17 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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