7.5/10
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The Devil's Backbone (2001)

El espinazo del diablo (original title)
After Carlos - a 12-year-old whose father has died in the Spanish Civil War - arrives at an ominous boys' orphanage, he discovers the school is haunted and has many dark secrets that he must uncover.

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6 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Carmen
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Jacinto
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Dr. Casares
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Carlos
Íñigo Garcés ...
Jaime
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Conchita
José Manuel Lorenzo ...
Marcelo
Francisco Maestre ...
El Puerco (as Paco Maestre)
...
Santi
Berta Ojea ...
Alma
Adrián Lamana ...
Gálvez
Daniel Esparza ...
Marcos
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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Horror

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

20 April 2001 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

The Devil's Backbone  »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$34,963 (USA) (23 November 2001)

Gross:

$754,749 (USA) (3 May 2002)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This labor of love for director Guillermo del Toro was sixteen years in development. 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.
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Crazy Credits

For my parents See more »

Connections

References The Others (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

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Written by Charles Borel-Clerc and José Luis Salado
Performed by Imperio Argentina and Manolo Russell
Courtesy Producciones El Delirio
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Poetry on screen - A classic Ghost story
18 May 2004 | by (Liverpool) – See all my reviews

Some people think horror is about busty teens and young rebels being picked off by mysterious killers or lots of gore from a made up creature. Well this film has neither so stay away.

What you do have is a stunning film with great actors playing real people with real issues. Three or four stories are interwoven perfectly, set off with great imagery...all set around the Spanish civil war and the haunting corridors of an orphanage for abandoned children.

While the film does contain a ghost -the murdered child, Santi- the real horror of the film comes from the greed of certain adults who occupy the orphanage with the children.

This film is intelligent poetry on screen -mortality, love, hate, jealousy, greed and redemption are all explored.

This film puts many films to shame just for having a great story at it's core.


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