|The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)
||[Jun. 30th, 2008|05:32 pm]
Spanish Language Films
Director: Victor Erice
Starring: Ana Torrent, Fernando Fernán Gómez, Teresa Gimpera, Isabel Tellería
Victor Erice’s enigmatic and haunting film takes place in a small Spanish village during the 1940’s in which Spain is starting to slowly move away from the remnants of the Spanish Civil War. The movie revolves around a young girl named Ana, who is played wonderfully by a young Ana Torrent (Thesis), who along with other of the townspeople, attends a showing of James Whale’s Frankenstein. The young girl becomes obsessed with the Frankenstein monster, and after having a discussion about the monster with her sister, Ana becomes convinced that the monster exists and roams the countryside in search of him.
Released in the early seventies when Francisco Franco’s regime was in its last legs, Erice’s film serves as a commentary on both the early days of the Franco regime and also attempts to imagine what life might be like after the regime. What makes this film the most intriguing is Erice’s ability to create an enigmatic and symbolic film that speaks of Spain’s political situation as seen through the eyes of a young girl, who like any child is struggling to draw lines between what is real and what is fantasy. The film is open to interpretation, and just as Ana has difficulty in deciding what is real and what is not, the audience is also left to decide what parts of the movie actually happened and what parts are an extension of the young girl’s imagination.
As far as Spanish films that provide a critique of the Franco regime, this film is certainly one of the most mysterious and hauntingly shot that I have seen. The film arguably is making the argument that the fear of change that faced the country of Spain after revolution has parallels to the fear that Spaniards had about how the county was going to change after Franco's regime was over. The movie has several themes that lurk below its layers, but I believe that the main theme of the film is that to a young child who has had to live through the war atrocities that have resulted as a result of a post civil was Spain, the monsters from the screen seem far less terrifying and dangerous than many of those who have risen to power.
I definitely recommend this film.