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 <email@example.com>
There is a total of exactly 1000 shots in the film. Exactly 500 are inside, and exactly 500 are outside. See more »
When Ana and Isabel first go to the well, there are stones around the base. Ana steps on one to look down into the well. When she returns later there are no longer any stones so when she looks in to the well she is much too short to see down into it. See more »
Take the brush and you wash your face with it. Then put soap on it.
[lathers up her face]
Then I shave off all my little hairs?
Yes. Then when you're done you put on cologne.
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The Magic of the Movies Through the Eyes of a Wide-Eyed Child
"Spirit of the Beehive (El Espíritu de la colmena)" is a lovely insight into the mind of a child, where fantasy mixes with reality and stories with dreams. This is a beautiful metaphor for the magic of the movies and co-writer/director Víctor Erice illustrates the connection further by having the impact of the film "Frankenstein" with Boris Karloff on a young girl as the pivotal plot point.
Ana Torrent is a wide-eyed innocent who carries the film, as we completely enter into how she integrates her daily life, both the quotidian happenings and the unusual, with scary stories her older sister teases her with and with the film. Her beautiful eyes are expressive and haunting. As someone who had an older sister with all kinds of outlandish tales that were gullibly believed, the sibling teasing is the most natural I've seen on film.
Erice has a completely original take on the Frankenstein story, no matter how many times it has been referenced in other movies. "Ana" powerfully relates to the little girl in the film, even though she does not understand any of the darker emotions or outcomes. The film inspires her to seek out misfits and outcasts, with unintended consequences and impacts on the adult world.
The adult world is the weakest part of the film, or it's so heavy with symbolism about the 1940's period when the film takes place or of the end of Francoism in Spain when the film was made that it's lost for a viewer first seeing the film today. While sometimes the parents', teachers' and servants' behavior seems mysterious if we were just seeing it from her perspective, their obliviousness and self-involvement in their own intellectual and romantic pursuits aren't really explained, even as her father's pompous hobby somehow gives the film its title. It might be some sort of commentary on how adults have their own way of blending fantasy and reality or some other political commentary.
Seen in a new 35 MM print at NYC's Film Forum, the cinematography by Luis Cuadrado was stunning. The rural scenes of fields, forest and horizon --where dangers and threats always lurk beneath the pastoral--are beautiful, with simply gorgeous looking vignettes of childhood experiences.
I wonder if this insightful look inside a child's mind influenced such films as "I'm Not Scared (Io non ho paura)" and "Paperhouse." but the film seems so fresh and creative I was surprised that it was made in 1973.
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