7.5/10
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223 user 157 critic

The Devil's Backbone (2001)

El espinazo del diablo (original title)
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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
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:

The living will always be more dangerous than the dead. 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

The upcoming Criterion Collection DVD/Blu-Ray release of the film has the spine number 666, a clever play-on-words with the film's title. 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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

El 11 de agosto de 2000, durante el rodaje de esta película, nació Luna, hija de Toni y Elisabeth y niña de todos (On the 11th of August, 2002, while this movie was being filmed, Luna was born, a daughter for Toni and Elisabeth, and a child for all of us). See more »

Connections

Featured in Horror Europa with Mark Gatiss (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Recordar
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

 
Haunting, Sad And Beautiful
11 February 2018 | by gogoschka-1See all my reviews

A beautiful, atmospheric story about a haunted orphanage. To date, I think it's Del Toro's most "complete" film, combining his trademark visuals with a very touching story about war, death, guilt and grief - and ultimately hope.

Like 'Pan's Labyrinth' the story is set against the backdrop of the Spanish civil war (although here the war serves merely as a background noise). The film is so beautifully shot that I would recommend it even to people who don't normally like ghost stories (it does have some scary moments, mind); this one transcends the horror genre. 8 stars out of 10.

In case you're interested in more underrated masterpieces, here's some of my favorites:

imdb.com/list/ls070242495


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