Last Featured: June 10, 2016
In Víctor Erice’s magical realist classic The Spirit of the Beehive, a young girl believes that the spirit of Frankenstein’s Monster has followed her off the screen, into her own world.
When we say that a movie “haunts us,” usually we mean there’s some specific message that sticks with us, or a scene we can’t stop thinking about. But in Víctor Erice’s classic The Spirit of the Beehive, a young girl believes that the spirit of Frankenstein’s Monster has followed her off the screen, into her own world. Convinced that he’s now living in a nearby well, she makes frequent treks across the Castilian plateau to try to catch a glimpse of him.
To say that Ana is “haunted” is only part of the story. Her rich and often eerie imagination is subtly set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War. If this sounds like a familiar plot to you, that’s because it is: this small film inspired Guillermo del Toro’s recent magical realist tour de force Pan’s Labyrinth (another IFM pick).
But while Pan’s Labyrinth relies on extravagant sets and characters, The Spirit of the Beehive is much more suggestive than theatrical. It manages to capture Ana’s sense of wonder, for instance, with simple shots of her powerful, young eyes.
Only in one final, magical scene do we realize that the spell has been just as richly cast.