Spirit of the Beehive

The Spirit of the Beehive

4.5 2
Director: Victor Erice

Cast: Fernando Fernán Gómez, Teresa Gimpera, Ana Torrent

     
 

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Widely regarded as a masterpiece of Spanish cinema, this allegorical tale is set in a remote village in the 1940s. The life in the village is calm and uneventful -- an allegory of Spanish life after General Franco's victory in the Spanish Civil War. While their father (Fernando Fernán Gómez) studies bees in his beehive and their mother (Teresa Gimpera) writes letters…  See more details below

Overview

Widely regarded as a masterpiece of Spanish cinema, this allegorical tale is set in a remote village in the 1940s. The life in the village is calm and uneventful -- an allegory of Spanish life after General Franco's victory in the Spanish Civil War. While their father (Fernando Fernán Gómez) studies bees in his beehive and their mother (Teresa Gimpera) writes letters to a non-existent correspondent, two young girls, Ana (Ana Torrent) and Isabel (Isabel Telleria), go to see James Whale's Frankenstein at a local cinema. Though they can hardly understand the concept, both girls are deeply impressed with the moment when a little girl gives a flower to the monster. Isabel, the older sister, tells Ana that the monster actually exists as a spirit that you can't see unless you know how to approach him. Ana starts wandering around the countryside in search of the kind creature. The film received critical accolades for its subtle and masterful use of cinematic language and the expressive performance of the young Ana Torrent.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Director Victor Erice's films, with his painterly images, languid pace, and patient working methods (three films in the past 30 years), are reminiscent of the lyricism of Terrence Malick. The Spirit of the Beehive is about a little girl who, in the child's dreamy desire to make sense of her world, constructs a Frankenstein monster of both benevolence and violence. Its depiction of childhood is tender, the story simple and clear. Yet what makes the film so gorgeously affecting is its summoning of a difficult to grasp intensity beneath its placid surface, where emotional extremes take on a supernatural aura and hover in the chest like a thick tremulous cloud. Realizing one's "spirit" involves a melancholy understanding of life's random potential for joy and sorrow and that the switch can be sudden, as when the Frankenstein monster switches from playing with to killing a child. This amalgam of conflicting emotions comes from humanity and yet seems to operate from without, and is a wonderful metaphor for the swirl surrounding war. (The Spanish Civil War has ended but the stink still hangs in the air like an uneasy mist.) Ana's spirit is her own, but the title refers to the universality of this essence. With her wide and brown-as-a-chestnut eyes and shyly bold demeanor, Ana Torrent is exceptional as Ana. In her search for the spirit she registers the complicated layers of a child realizing death. Erice elicits another fantastic young performance from Isabel Telleria, who plays Ana's older sister Isabel with a mischievous, vaguely menacing air. Achieving a beauty of ache-inducing intensity, cinematographer Luis Cuadrado shoots the Castilian village and countryside using astounding gradations of wheat and amber colors.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/08/2013
UPC:
0715515103213
Original Release:
1973
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen, Color]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Mono]
Time:
1:39:00
Sales rank:
20,053

Special Features

The Footprints of a Spirit, a documentary featuring Director Víctor Erice, Producer Elías Querejeta, Co-screenwriter Ángel Fernández Santos, and actor Ana Torrent ; New Interviews with scholar Linda C. Ehrlich and Actor Fernando Fernán Gómez; Víctor Erice in Madrid, an interview by filmmaker Hideyuki Miyaoka; ; Plus a new essay by film scholar Paul Julian Smith

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Fernando Fernán Gómez Fernando
Teresa Gimpera Teresa
Ana Torrent Ana
Isabel Telleria Isabel
Miguel Picazo Doctor
Jose Villasante The Monster
Juan Margallo The Fugitive
Lally Soldavilla Milagro
Linda C. Ehrlich Interviewee
Hideyuki Miyaoka Interviewee

Technical Credits
Victor Erice Director,Screenwriter
Pablo Gonzalez del Amo Editor
Adolfo Cofino Art Director
Luis Cuadrado Cinematographer
Luis de Pablo Score Composer
Juan Margallo Camera Operator
Elias Querejeta Producer
Francisco J. Querejeta Screenwriter
Angel Fernandez Santos Screenwriter
Jose Villasante Camera Operator

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Spirit of the Beehive: The Film
1. Logos/Opening Credits [1:47]
2. Hoyuelos [4:56]
3. A Beekeeper [10:29]
4. "Frankenstein" [3:34]
5. A Spirit [3:29]
6. Footsteps [6:34]
7. Don José [4:10]
8. A Farmhouse [6:08]
9. Mushroom Hunting [3:50]
10. Playtime [3:27]
11. Train Tracks [2:41]
12. Photos [2:54]
13. Black Cat [2:51]
14. An Accident [7:31]
15. A Fire [3:36]
16. A Soldier [6:06]
17. A Pocket Watch [4:31]
18. Bloodstains [2:39]
19. A Monster [5:42]
20. Alive [7:16]
21. A Window [2:13]
22. End Credits [2:20]
1. Color Bars
Disc #2 -- Spirit of the Beehive: The Supplements
1. A Still from "Frankenstein" [4:45]
2. Once Upon a Time and Place [4:36]
3. The Roots of the Story [7:06]
4. Primordial Images [3:41]
5. Traces of Light [4:34]
6. The Journey of a Child's Gaze [7:29]
7. Between Fact and Fiction [5:09]
8. Interior Exile [3:37]
9. Returning to the Source [7:24]
1. Introduction [3:25]
2. On "The Spirit of the Beehive" [14:31]
3. The Film Speaks [21:12]
4. The Rules of the Game [9:15]

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The Spirit of the Beehive 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
jessticulations More than 1 year ago
Víctor Erice's masterpiece of Spanish cinema, El espíritu de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive), tells a simple and beautiful tale, but is also wholly allegorical in regards to the political and social conditions of Spain. Made in 1973 toward the end of Franco's run, it takes place in a small village in 1940, immediately following the Spanish Civil War and Franco's victory. The film presumably uses many plot devices as code for its secret political symbolism, and one of them is the fascinating use of cinema within the film. Through this meta-commentary, the film brings new attention to the referential nature of film and what this means for the larger, political picture. Not only was The Spirit of the Beehive politically subversive, but it was also aesthetically innovative in many influential ways.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago