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

8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 9,888 users   Metascore: 87/100
Reviews: 83 user | 68 critic | 4 from Metacritic.com

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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(screenplay), (story), 3 more credits »
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Cast

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

Storyline

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 <m.crew@bbcnc.org.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 January 1977 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Spirit of the Beehive  »

Box Office

Gross:

ESP 43,269,044 (Spain)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The deserted building next to the well was actually an abandoned sheep-shed. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

creatively captivates the viewer through images rather than words and leaves you wondering after the last scene has ended.
28 October 2000 | by (Normal, Illinois) – See all my reviews

This is an enchanting movie about two young sisters caught in the silence of post-war Spain. While representing the isolation of Spain in that era and the lack of communication that persisted throughout the country, "El espíritu de la colmena," by Victor Erice in 1973, fascinated me with its use of dramatic chiaroscuro lightening, large panoramic shots and the use of fades to connect scenes while commenting on the time warp that Spain endured after the war.

Without using much dialogue in the movie, Erice artistically comments on the political tension in Spain through potent images and scenes. He uses symbols such as the two young sisters to represent the division between the Republican and Nationalist parties, and the leitmotif of the beehive to represent the "trapped" workers in Spain under Franco. The most amazing aspect is that all of the post-war commentary is said without any words and without mentioning the actual event! It is a "cine de espectáculo," or spectacle cinema, that symbolizes the connection between fantasy in the movies and fantasy in reality. Without knowing the history of Spain, a spectator could misinterpret the movie as a commentary about the imagination of a little girl after viewing the movie "Frankenstein." The character of Frankenstein is a main component contributing to Ana's, the younger sister, interpretation of reality in Spain, and it gains meaning as Frankenstein evolves from a character in the movie to an object of fantasy. It continues to evolve into a man of flesh and bones and finally represents the hope of Ana when all other sources of information in her life turn out to be faulty.

"El espíritu de la colmena" is a powerful movie that uses many metaphors (such as Ana for the young, innocent generation of Spain) to question the interpretation of reality. It is a powerful, artistically made movie that captivates the viewer through images rather than words. It should be seen more than once in order to understand all it's hidden messages.


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