Víctor Erice’s 1973 cine-poem The Spirit Of The Beehive has been cited by Guillermo del Toro as one of the influences on his The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, because even though Erice takes a softer, dreamier approach to the story of children surviving the Spanish Civil War, both men use fantasy imagery metaphorically, depicting the death of individualism under fascism. Ana Torrent and Isabel Telleriá star in The Spirit Of The Beehive as preteen sisters who live on a remote Castilian plain with their scientist father and moody mother. The girls see a traveling screening of Frankenstein, and become obsessed with monsters, the world of adults, and exploring the line between life and death. Erice reminds the audience throughout that these characters are just flickering light on a movie screen, but that doesn’t make it any less tense when the girls are injuring themselves or torturing animals, as part of their experimental study of what animates all of us. The Spirit Of The Beehive is a dark and beautiful film, designed to put viewers back behind the awestruck eyes of a child. It airs on Turner Classic Movies in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning, at 4:30 a.m. Eastern.
October 17, 2014 newsreel