Devil's Backbone

Devil's Backbone

4.4 10
Director: Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Guillermo del Toro, Marisa Paredes, Eduardo Noriega, Federico Luppi


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The polar opposite of director Guillermo del Toro's flashy Hollywood action feature Blade II, The Devil's Backbone receives its second official stateside DVD release courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics. With a brand-new audio commentary track and a wide selection of special features that make the previous release look positively bare-bones (despite the…  See more details below


The polar opposite of director Guillermo del Toro's flashy Hollywood action feature Blade II, The Devil's Backbone receives its second official stateside DVD release courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics. With a brand-new audio commentary track and a wide selection of special features that make the previous release look positively bare-bones (despite the fact that it did contain some impressive extras), this release is certain to please del Toro fans who prefer deep chills to pulse-pounding vampire mayhem. Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the high-definition transfer is nothing short of pristine -- the ideal conduit for cinematographer Guillermo Navarro's moody photography. As with the previous release, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack perfectly balances the mournful score with a variety of impressive and effectively unsettling directional effects. With such a solid presentation of the feature itself, Sony Pictures Classics could have called it a day there, but del Toro's rapidly growing fan base will undoubtedly thank them for gathering some truly impressive bonus materials. A newly recorded commentary track offers the soft-spoken but engaging director a chance to voice his opinions on the "gothic romance" genre and the symbiotic relationship between horror and context while taking the informative track in an entirely new direction than the one that graced the previous release. It's great to hear him talk about his influences, which range from the literary works of Horace Walpole to the haunting hallways of his grandmother's home -- a lingering memory that fuels one of the film's most effective fright sequences. Clocking in at just under 30 minutes, a making-of documentary entitled "What is a Ghost?: The Making of The Devil's Backbone" goes into even more depth by offering detailed interviews with the cast and crew of the film. From the original concept for the story to special effects and the talented cast, the impressive featurette leaves no stone unturned as it explored every aspect of production. Aspiring filmmakers who may like to see how visual concepts are fleshed out from concept to execution will undoubtedly want to check out the director's thumbnail track, which is in turn expanded upon with a thumbnail-to-storyboard feature that divides the screen into three segments: thumbnails, storyboards, and the film itself. Deleted scenes with optional director's commentary find del Toro emphasizing the importance of pacing while offering a little more characterization and setup, while five galleries offer a wealth of imagery related to characters, art direction/set design, prosthetic effects, thumbnails, and, best of all, del Toro's personal director's notebook. A trio of previews for such features as del Toro's Hellboy top the features off nicely, making this definitive release of The Devil's Backbone a must-have.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Tony Nigro
After proving his mettle with the American genre hits Mimic and Blade 2, director Guillermo del Toro returns to Spanish-language filmmaking with The Devil's Backbone. An atmospheric ghost story set in a renegade orphanage during the Spanish Civil War (specifically, 1939), the film frightens more through storytelling than via special effects. Following the mysterious disappearance of a resident/student, young Carlos (Fernando Tielve) arrives at the orphanage, which is an arid oasis in the war, run with tough love by headmistress Carmen (Marisa Paredes, All About My Mother) and Professor Casares (Federico Luppi, Cronos), both of whom traffic in gold and moonshine on the side. Amid typical run-ins with the local bullies, Carlos discovers the ulterior motives of Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega, Open Your Eyes), the aggressive young groundskeeper who has his eye on the headmistress's hidden treasure. Around the premises, Carlos begins to see a ghost child, who repeatedly foretells the explosive results of Jacinto's greed. The seasoned and impressive adult cast is well balanced by the young neophytes, who offer as much range and sympathy as their elders. Del Toro deals in eerie imagery, the most striking of which is an unexploded bomb dropped in the center of a courtyard; the ghost's a chiller, too, always appearing to be submerged underwater, even while walking the halls. Equally masterful is del Toro's handling of the trials of childhood. Rarely has a horror film been as honestly sensitive to growing pains as The Devil's Backbone.
All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
"What is a ghost?" asks Spanish director Guillermo Del Toro's supremely menacing supernatural tale of greed and sorrow set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War. Although fear of the unknown strikes a chord deep within the collective psyche, Del Toro shows that these things of a more familiar persuasion may, in fact, be the driving force behind their vengeful motivations. The desolate landscape that surrounds the dilapidated orphanage is the ideal setting for a tale of ghosts both literal and figurative - its crumbling corridors the perfect mix of beautiful melancholy and pregnant menace that underscores a sinister mystery slowly bubbling to the surface, and the vengeful supernatural force from the past that roams the decaying hallways which house children with little past or future. Screen newcomer Fernando Tielve shows great promise as the orphanage's fearful yet brave newcomer Carlos, while Obre los Ojos star Eduardo Noriega takes an effectively chilling turn as caretaker Jacinto - the so-called "prince without a kingdom" who is willing to trade his soul for a well-guarded treasure. Menace and mystery are the crucial factors which compel the viewer and command their attention, simultaneously driving the film forward with an increasing sense of dread and wonder. (Guillermo Navarro)'s stylishly aged lens adds the perfect visual texture through the dark nights, in which the children giggle with nervous fear of "the one who sighs," and the harsh daytime hours, in which they attempt to avoid the wrath of a more tangible ghost. In Navarro's lens, director Del Toro has found the perfect visual compliment to his deliberately brooding and seductive tale. A mysterious relic of war that sits silent in the courtyard of the orphanage is a centrally anchored reminder that, even though considered harmless by those who share its space, adds a layer of unresolved tension beneath the fragile surface of reality. With characters' pasts and sometimes questionable motivations slowly revealed as the viewer is taken deeper into the troubled minds of those who dwell in the isolated kingdom in limbo, Del Toro has crafted a finely tuned and quietly intense fable of the influence of ghosts on the fate of man.
Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert

The Devil's Backbone has been compared to The Others, and has the same ambition and intelligence, but is more compelling and even convincing.
Los Angeles Times - Kevin Thomas
With the ambitious and ominous The Devil's Backbone, Del Toro rises to a new level of accomplishment, adding history and politics to his distinctive blend.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Remastered in High Definition; Director and Cinematographer Commentary; Deleted Scenes; Thumbnail Sketches; Featurettes; Photo Galleries; Storyboard comparisons; Previews; Languages: Spanish; Subtitles: English.

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Marisa Paredes Carmen
Eduardo Noriega Jacinto
Federico Luppi Casares
Fernando Tielve Actor
Inigo Garces Jaime
Irene Visedo Actor
Berta Ojea Actor

Technical Credits
Guillermo del Toro Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Agustín Almodóvar Executive Producer
Luis de la Madrid Editor
Jorge Hernandez Makeup
Cesar Macarron Art Director
Joaquin Manchado Camera Operator
Salva Mayolas Sound/Sound Designer
David Muñoz Screenwriter
Javier Navarrete Score Composer
Bertha Navarro Executive Producer
Guillermo Navarro Cinematographer
Miguel Rejas Sound/Sound Designer
Antonio Trashorras Screenwriter
José Vico Costumes/Costume Designer

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Start [3:47]
2. Carlos [2:57]
3. Galvez & Owl [2:53]
4. Mr. Ayala Leaves [3:03]
5. Number 12 [1:37]
6. Jacinto & Conchita [3:27]
7. One Who Sighs [2:45]
8. Bhisti Boys [6:02]
9. "Many of You Will Die" [10:51]
10. "He Can't Swim!" [2:56]
11. The Devil's Backbone [2:11]
12. Swap Meet [2:08]
13. The Last Time [2:46]
14. The Legend of Santi [6:35]
15. The Condemned [1:23]
16. Careful What You Wish For [4:40]
17. "We Have to Leave" [1:39]
18. Prince Without a Kingdom [6:06]
19. Prophecy Fulfilled [2:15]
20. A New Poem [5:28]
21. Watching for His Prey [1:37]
22. How Santi Died [6:07]
23. "Say You're Sorry" [4:30]
24. What Santi Wants [1:34]
25. Jacinto Returns [1:46]
26. The Escape [5:49]
27. Gold! [2:02]
28. Punishment Fits the Crime [8:36]


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The Devil's Backbone 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a pretty good movie ! kinda sad n a way but also creepy 1..
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is probably the best spanish horror movie I've ever seen. The story is great, with an unexpected twist at the end. The effects for Santi are extremely creepy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best movies that i have ever seen. Absolutley bone chilling! I don't get scared watching movies very often, but this one really did it for me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not only that but it also introduced to me to different horror movies other than the usual American ones we seen a million times (no offense). Anyway this was a very good and suspenseful film and that ghost boy was creepy. Here we have a boy who is left at an orphanage and is haunted by a ghost and with help from his new friends they try to find out what happened. The ending was weird but still alright. Letting you know that it is sort of bloody so yeah watch with caution
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