The Devil's Backbone (2001) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • 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 latches onto Carlos, badgering him incessantly at night and gloomily intoning, "Many of you will die." As if that wasn't enough to keep the orphanage's occupants in an unrelenting state of terror, there's the un-exploded bomb that dominates the orphanage's courtyard, still ticking away; With the orphanage left defenseless by its isolation, and the swift progression of Franco's troops, the ghost's prediction seems depressingly accurate. Nevertheless, with every step of the plot, it becomes apparent that the ghost's predictions as to who (or what) will die, the real source of danger and even the definition of death itself may be more ambiguous than first thought.

    - Written by Anonymous
  • During the Spanish Civil War, the twelve year-old boy Carlos is left behind by his family in an orphanage in the middle of nowhere. Dr. Casares and his wife Carmen run the orphanage and the former orphan Jacinto, who lives with the teacher Conchita, is responsible to take care and for the maintenance of the place. Jacinto is an ambitious and violent man and has a love affair with Carmen trying to steal the key of the safe where Dr. Casares and his wife hide the gold that is used to support the Republican forces. Carlos is bullied by the strong boy Jaime, who is the leader of the other boys. One day, Carlos feels the presence of a ghost and soon he learns that he is the orphan Santi that is missing. Carlos sees Santi several times and one day he learns the dark secret of his disappearance.

    - Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • 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.

    - Written by Daniel Jos. Leary


After his father dies in combat during the last months of the Spanish Civil War, young Carlos (Fernando Tielve) is brought to an isolated orphanage in 1939...

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