7.5/10
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222 user 156 critic

The Devil's Backbone (2001)

El espinazo del diablo (original title)
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2:09 | Trailer

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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.

Director:

Guillermo del Toro
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Popularity
2,974 ( 167)
6 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Marisa Paredes ... Carmen
Eduardo Noriega ... Jacinto
Federico Luppi ... Dr. Casares
Fernando Tielve ... Carlos
Íñigo Garcés ... Jaime
Irene Visedo ... Conchita
José Manuel Lorenzo José Manuel Lorenzo ... Marcelo
Francisco Maestre Francisco Maestre ... El Puerco (as Paco Maestre)
Junio Valverde ... Santi
Berta Ojea Berta Ojea ... Alma
Adrián Lamana Adrián Lamana ... Gálvez
Daniel Esparza Daniel Esparza ... Marcos
Miguel Ortiz
Juan Carlos Vellido
Javier Bódalo 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:

What is a ghost? See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Spain | Mexico

Language:

Spanish

Release Date:

20 April 2001 (Spain) See more »

Also Known As:

The Devil's Backbone See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$34,963, 25 November 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$754,749, 5 May 2002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

El Deseo,Tequila Gang,Sogepaq See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Guillermo del Toro has said of the characters in this film: "All the good guys in the film had the initials 'C' and I wanted to have Jacinto and Jaime to share the same initial because Jaime is a bully that chooses to change--unlike his grown up counterpart." 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

During the opening credits sequence, the letters of the film's title can be seen floating around the preserved fetuses. Eventually, the letters come together to form the title. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Blood Pact: The Making of 'Blade II' (2002) 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
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

a complete film
10 April 2005 | by jimi99See all my reviews

This is not just an incredibly effective ghost story, but a cinematic masterpiece. Like his "Cronos," Del Toro has created a rich horror fable that is driven by 3-dimensional characters involved in a fascinating plot that leads to a wholly satisfying ending. With many developments along the way that shock, move, and thrill. And of course the political allegory and reality of the film, the Spanish Civil War, all the orphan boys of noble Loyalist fighters fighting their own war against a truly horrifying fascist villain, the young and handsome Jacinto, who is not without a sad ghost in his own past that feeds his destructiveness.

Del Toro is one of the most intelligent and humane directors working today, not something usually said about auteur in the horror genre. I have not seen "Hellboy" but think less of his US endeavors than these two Spanish masterworks...


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