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 11,290 users   Metascore: 87/100
Reviews: 85 user | 69 critic | 4 from

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.



(screenplay), (story), 3 more credits »
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7 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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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?


Voted third best Spanish film by professionals and critics in 1996 Spanish cinema centenary. 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 »


Isabel: Papa, have you ever picked a bad mushroom?
Fernando: No. You know why?
Isabel: Why?
Fernando: Because I always do like my grandfather told me.
[he gets up and starts to walk; the girls follow]
Fernando: If you're not sure a mushroom's good, don't pick it. Because if it's bad, and you eat it, it's your last mushroom and your last everything too.
See more »


Referenced in The Years in the Desert (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

The greatest film about childhood
22 September 2005 | by (bangkok) – See all my reviews

One of my all time favourite films. The first time I watched it I thought it was nice, the second time, some years later, I was a bit disappointed - perhaps I had overblown it in my mind - the third time, another year later, I approached it with the right attitude and the whole thing came superbly alive.

All is serene for two village girls until a travelling cinema shows "Frankenstein" in their village. Perhaps they are a little bored - and there is a sense that the village is holding its breath (due to the war) - but after this the girls allow little creepy moments to begin pervading their lives. Theresa is only playing, but Anna is not.

There are many simple, mesmerising scenes: Anna standing transfixed by the railway line as the train approaches; Theresa almost strangling the cat and painting her lips with blood from her pricked finger, then later pretending to be dead in a dreamy, rich, prolonged, silent scene.

The old barn is one of the most atmospheric settings in all cinema. The silence and stillness of the place, remote from the ordinary world, makes it instantly magical, and the calm photography captures every nuance of mood. There is one glorious transition when the camera, resting on Anna's sleeping face, cuts to sleeping face of the fugitive in the barn, then cuts again back to Anna's face - but this time she is standing in the barn watching him. Wonderful.

There are also funny moments: the two girls running screaming from the cinema; laughing over their bowls of milk at breakfast; learning anatomy with "Don Jose" in the classroom (another incarnation, in Anna's imagination, of Frankenstein). There is also a fine moment when the dog (great little canine performance here) finds Anna in the ruins.

Don't be fooled by all the pretentious-sounding comments that the key to understanding this film is really the Spanish civil war. That is the context, and there are metaphors to be had (like the faded aristocratic house and the exhausted lives of the girls' parents), but this is not a film about politics or even society, forget about that and dwell on something much more important, something that will always persist: the imagination of childhood that has no idea yet whether the world is ordinary or extraordinary; the powerlessness of the child in the grip of tentative imaginings created out of fear and fascination, and drawn, if only by curiosity, towards a compelling but inexplicable fate, and yielding to it, only to find it chimerical.

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