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The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

El espíritu de la colmena (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Fantasy | 14 March 1975 (Sweden)
In 1940, after watching and being traumatized by the movie Frankenstein (1931), a sensitive seven year-old girl living in a small Spanish village drifts into her own fantasy world.

Director:

Víctor Erice

Writers:

Ángel Fernández Santos (original screenplay), Víctor Erice (original screenplay)

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7 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

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

Taglines:

Entering a child's world of fascination and horror.

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Spain

Language:

Spanish

Release Date:

14 March 1975 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

The Spirit of the Beehive See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Isabel: Take the brush and you wash your face with it. Then put soap on it.
Ana: [lathers up her face] Then I shave off all my little hairs?
Isabel: [laughs] Yes. Then when you're done you put on cologne.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Their Golden Years (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

A media luz
Written by Carlos Lenzi (as César Lenzi) y Edgardo Donato
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

The greatest film about childhood
22 September 2005 | by federovskySee 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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