The Spirit Of The Beehive review

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Made toward the end of General Franco's dictatorship, Victor Erice's 1973 film unwinds in rural Castille shortly after the end of the Spanish Civil War. Young Ana (Ana Torrent) is both captivated and puzzled by the screening of James Whale's Frankenstein in the village cinema. Her elder and more mischievous sister Isabel (Isabel Telleria) explains that the monster of the film doesn't die. Instead he survives as a living spirit and can be seen at a seemingly deserted local barn - which is where Ana discovers a wounded soldier...

Erice conjures up a dream-like world where the traumatised adults appear to have retreated into their own private universes (the father with his studying of bees, the mother with her letter-writing). Shooting in muted colours and playing masterful games with shadow and light, the director places atmosphere over plot and imaginatively conveys the mysteriousness of everyday life from a child's perspective. Spellbinding.

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