Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ana Torrent, Isabel Tellería, Fernando Fernán Gómez, Teresa Gimpera, Ketty de la Cámara, Juan Francisco Margallo, José Villasante
Written by: Victor Erice, Francisco J. Querejeta, Ángel Fernández Santos
Directed by: Victor Erice
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
Running Time: 95
Date: 19/03/2013

Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Shelley Roll

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

If you caught some of the Balboa's excellent Boris Karloff retrospective last week (it continues next week), then you won't want to miss this: Victor Erice's extraordinarily beautiful, delicate and heartbreaking Spirit of the Beehive (1973), available once again for the first time in decades.

Set in 1940 in Spain's Castillian countryside, the film centers around eight year-old Ana (the haunting Ana Torrent in an extraordinary performance) and her ten year-old sister Isabel (Isabel Telleria). In the town square, they join the other children for a screening of James Whale's Frankenstein (hence, the Karloff connection). Ana becomes fascinated by the monster and is convinced that he still exists, somewhere out there in the countryside.

In an abandoned farmhouse, she finds an escaped Republican soldier (on the losing end of Franco's Civil War) and believes that he's her monster, bringing him clothes and food. Erice meant his film as a sly social commentary, but his opinions are so well enveloped in the film's dreamy coming-of-age tapestry that moviegoers worldwide (especially younger ones) have embraced it. Mostly, it captures the mood of childhood, the mystery, the newness, and the unseen tragedies.

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