The Spirit of The Beehive (Victor Erice – 1973) A

This is a classic that I expected to be bigger and sprawling I think. I expected a rough and tough story about the war and the impact it has on rural Spain with Franco coming to power. What this turned out to be is a much more focused and delightful film told almost entirely from the perspective of a 10 year old girl, Ana, and her sister Isabel (I think she is maybe 13). It’s about war too, certainly, but war as in a far away concept from this remote village. One day the black and white classic film “Frankenstein” comes to their town and seeing that has a huge impact on them, especially Ana. That’s what this movie is about, the impact of movies. Ana sees the monster and it is real to her. She might even have one living in the old farmhouse that she passes on the way to school. We meet her parents but they barely speak much. Are the parents really that distant and silent? or is this the perspective of a 10 year old and how she sees adult? I am not sure. Movies like this rise and fall based on how believable a child’s performance can be. The two young actresses are very good and Erice uses them so well framing Ana’s face in shots that focus on her big eyes. They seem to see way more than the Castillian town where she lives, and instead the fantastical and surreal.


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