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The Devil's Backbone (2001)
"El espinazo del diablo" (original title)

 -  Drama | Horror  -  20 April 2001 (Spain)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 39,113 users   Metascore: 78/100
Reviews: 191 user | 150 critic | 30 from Metacritic.com

After Carlos, a 12-year-old whose father has died in the Spanish Civil War, arrives at an ominous boy's orphanage he discovers the school is haunted and has many dark secrets that he must uncover.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Carmen
...
...
Dr. Casares
...
Íñigo Garcés ...
Jaime
...
Conchita
José Manuel Lorenzo ...
Marcelo
Francisco Maestre ...
El Puerco (as Paco Maestre)
Junio Valverde ...
Santi
Berta Ojea ...
Alma
Adrián Lamana ...
Gálvez
Daniel Esparza ...
Marcos
Miguel Ortiz
Javier Bódalo ...
Búho (as Javier González Madrigal)
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Storyline

It is 1939, the end of three years of bloody civil war in Spain, and General Franco's right-wing Nationalists are poised to defeat the left-wing Republican forces. A ten-year-old boy named Carlos, the son of a fallen Republican war hero, is left by his tutor in an orphanage in the middle of nowhere. The orphanage is run by a curt but considerate headmistress named Carmen and a kindly Professor Casares, both of whom are sympathetic to the doomed Republican cause. Despite their concern for him, and his gradual triumph over the usual schoolhouse bully, Carlos never feels completely comfortable in his new environment. First of all, there was that initial encounter with the orphanage's nasty caretaker, Jacinto, who reacts even more violently when anyone is caught looking around a particular storage room the one with the deep well. Second, and more inexplicable, is the presence of a ghost, one of the former occupants of the orphanage named Santi. Not long after Carlos' arrival, Santi ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

orphanage | ghost | boy | 12 year old | tutor | See more »

Taglines:

The living will always be more dangerous than the dead. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

Release Date:

20 April 2001 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

The Devil's Backbone  »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$16,290 (Hong Kong) (25 October 2002)

Gross:

$16,290 (Hong Kong) (25 October 2002)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character of Jaime is heavily inspired by the famous Spanish comic writer Carlos Giménez. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[voice over narration]
Casares: What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber.
See more »

Crazy Credits

El 11 de agosto de 2000, durante el rodaje de esta película, nació Luna, hija de Toni y Elisabeth y niña de todos (On the 11th of August, 2002, while this movie was being filmed, Luna was born, a daughter for Toni and Elisabeth, and a child for all of us). See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hellboy (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Una lágrima
Written by Eugenio Cardenas (as E. Cardenas) and Nicolás Verona (as N. Verona)
Performed by Carlos Gardel
Courtesy Blue Moon Producciones Discograficas
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Dramatic, creepy and excellent overall
22 December 2004 | by (Rhode Island, USA) – See all my reviews

After seeing the impressive rating on IMDb and being intrigued by its appearance at my local video store, I finally rented this film. I'm glad that I did.

"Blade 2" and "Hellboy" were my only other del Toro film's to date. Obviously, the man has an eye for style and even, occasionally, atmosphere. I was particularly impressed with "Hellboy": not nearly as good as the source material, but the best comic adaptation to film in many years, including the Marvel disasters. "The Devil's Backbone" is well acted and surprisingly effective in style and atmosphere. Not quite a horror movie...but with its creepy moments nonetheless. The script is also quite good: the characters are realistic and well portrayed, and there are a lot of great plot elements (i.e. the defused bomb) that give the story layers on top of layers.

My only complaint is that del Toro makes the mistake that many directors in the horror genre make: showing the monster/creature in too great a definition, and, in this case, far too early in the movie. Many directors should take a page from Ridley Scott's book: "Alien" is so scary because what you don't see of the creature, not because the little we do see of it. Still, del Toro's supernatural character is well-designed and has several haunting appearances.

All in all this was a great film that works as a mystery and as a drama: the writing, direction and performances are that strong. del Toro seems to do his best work while working with his own material, let's hope he does so more in the future.


48 of 67 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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what , no english audio again ? auto78900
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