4 stars (out of four)
"Spirit of the Beehive," the 1973 debut film of one of the world's great, neglected filmmakers, Spain's Victor Erice, is a work of sheer, entrancing beauty. It's a film that transports us back not just to the sights and sounds of childhood but to a core of sweet innocence and sometimes ignorant bliss. There's a brutal side to childhood, of course--and Erice shows part of that as well. But the images I think most people retain from the film, which, once seen, is not forgotten, are the golden and desolate Castilian plains on which it takes place, and the hauntingly lovely dark eyes of its 6-year-old heroine, Ana (played by the stunning child actress Ana Torrent.)
James Whale's 1931 "Frankenstein," with Boris Karloff as the monster.
For little Ana, Frankenstein's monster may embody a power and rebellious will absent from her lazy home life--where her mother writes love letters to an absent (perhaps dead) lover and her father keeps bees. Searching for the monster, "finding" him briefly in the person of a young fugitive, she strikes her own note of rebellion. Meanwhile, in exquisitely composed long shots by Luis Cuadrado, in frames as painterly as Terrence Malick's ("Days of Heaven") and as austere as Carl Dreyer's ("Day of Wrath"), Erice shows us the world as a sensitive child might see it, full of possibility, rapture and danger. This is a great film, too little seen, by a director who works rarely but beautifully, making only about a film a decade ("El Sur," "Dream of Light"). They're worth the wait, though, none more than "Spirit of the Beehive."
'The Spirit of the Beehive'
(In Spanish, with English subtitles.) Fri.-Thu., Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport. Call 773-871-6607 or visit www.musicboxtheatre.com. No MPAA rating: family (parents cautioned for suggestions of violence).
Movie review: 'The Spirit of the Beehive'
« Previous Story More Movies Next Story »
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
The Baltimore Sun encourages civil dialogue related to our stories; you must register and log-in to our site in order to participate. We reserve the right to remove any user and to delete comments that violate our Terms of Service. By commenting, you agree to these terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.