The Spirit of the Beehive


Drama / Fantasy

IMDb Rating 7.9 10 15,755


Downloaded times
May 11, 2020



Ana Torrent as Ángela
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
904.3 MB
Spanish 2.0
23.976 fps
98 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.64 GB
Spanish 2.0
23.976 fps
98 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by rudronriver 10 / 10 / 10

Children and Monsters, a return to childhood fantasies.

It is generally accepted that a political meaning has to be decoded whenever looking at this movie (it was filmed in the last years of Franco's dictatorship in Spain, and the story takes place in 1940, a year after the Spanish Civil War ended). But I suggest that one should firstly pay attention to the closest level of meaning: that is, just looking at the plain story narrated, metaphors aside. As 30 years after it was filmed so many people all over the world finds the movie fascinating it must be because of its emotive story about childhood universe, narrated in a poetically quiet tone. The life of Ana, a five year-old girl living in a little village of Castille, is subverted after watching James Whale's "Frankenstein" in a mobile cinema (the scene in itself is a cherished sample on the sociology of movie-going). The non appropriate for children movie raises questions in Ana, who is fascinated by the mystery of the Monster -or Spirit- as her older sister tells her that he lives close to their large house. For Ana, the heart of this mystery is the discovery of death amidst the lies of her sister and the oppressing family environment, dominated by the effects of war. Ana will be devoted to looking for the Spirit-Monster and when she finds a wounded fugitive soldier (a superb scene without words) she will feed and clothe him as she takes him for the Spirit; later on she will be shocked by the discovery of death. The mixture of reality and fantasy in a child's mind when dealing with the mysteries of life and death in the context of an alienated family and the devastated landscape of the postwar period in Spain, is the main story narrated from Ana's point of view. There are other stories which can be interpreted in several ways: the enigmatic life of the father, devoted to writing about social organization of bees; the mother writing to a distant beloved one; the sister, who deceives Ana with stories and playing death. These other plots convey other meanings to the movie; in a second level of meaning it is possible to interpret the beehive and the large house as a metaphor for the isolated Spain after the war, the monster as the incarnation of totalitarianism (made up of death bodies and the mind of a criminal), the two sisters as the metaphor of the two bands that fought in the fratricide Spanish War, and even the encounter of Ana with the fugitive soldier could be interpreted as the impossibility for this two bands of the country for becoming reconciled. There was a political intention for the movie, but is the plain story of the discoveries in childhood what gives the film a lasting preeminence. It also stands out for the great cinematography and the acting of children.

Reviewed by muerco 9 / 10 / 10

graceful and elegant

Like many of the other commentators here, I had heard about this movie long before I had ever had a chance to see it, although it typically is mentioned as one of Spain's greatest films. It definitely is. It is masterfully directed and I have not been able to stop thinking about it for days. The story is elliptically told and demands your participation in making sense of the narrative, but it's also leisurely paced and allows you to breathe in the atmosphere rather than forcing a particular reading on you. One thing you wouldn't guess from reading the other comments is how this is as much a film about nature as about history--it is like a poem of the countryside in winter, with long vistas of stone farmhouses framed against the rising sun. The film with the most similar visual palette is Malick's "Days of Heaven", but that film feels simplistic compared to the full immersion in history and memory presented in this film--a much more complete vision of the past. Ana Torrent is unforgettable. I can think of no better film about children, yet (as with so many other things in this movie) it doesn't feel forced--these kids aren't just the director's pawns, but real, living beings. If you get a chance to see it, definitely make the effort.

Reviewed by desh79 9 / 10 / 10

A masterstroke of allegorical film-making

I was about sixteen years old when I first saw The Spirit Of The Beehive, the first so-called "art house" movie I was ever fully confronted with. I say "confronted" because I had simply never seen anything like it before, and in a way I felt almost offended by its ambiguity and symbolism. How dare a movie suggest I tie all the loose ends together? I want everything on a plate, right there, explained! Then I watched it again. And again. And eventually it dawned on me: Film-making does not necessarily have to be about what we are *meant* to inscribe into something - it's what we, personally, subjectively, read into it, based on our experience and perspective of the world. Victor Erice's Espiritu De La Colmena introduced me to a whole new approach to film and cinema, and one which paved the way to my admiration for directors like Tarkovsky, Marker, and generally any unconventional film-maker under the sun. For that alone it holds a special resonance to me. While there is definitely a point to be made that this film is, first and foremost, a haunting look at the innocence of childhood, the subversive political meaning was something which is primarily the result of an attempt on my behalf to tie all the loose ends together, and the conclusion below is something I arrived at based on my own personal understanding of the narrative. On the surface, The Spirit Of The Beehive is about a family which attempts to cope with the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. It bears mentioning that the fact that this film even dares to address the conflict in such a direct manner suggests that, two years before Franco's death, the tight censorship regime in Spain was slowly but surely loosening its grip of the domestic film industry. Up to that point many films made in Spain during the Franco era were only able to address the civil war or Franco's regime in a strongly metaphorical manner or via subversive narratives (a case in point being much of Bunuel's work, albeit done in exile, or Saura's La Caza). In fact, much of Spanish cinema during that point in history can be regarded as an excellent case study in how allegories can be used as a way of averting tight censorship. That said, political commentary on a tangible level would not have passed the censors even at such a late stage in Franco's reign, and thus most of the criticism in ...Colmena is driven by a sense of mutual understanding between spectator and narrative. The start of the film is a case in point: a shot of a few children watching James Whale's Frankenstein (with the narrator proclaiming that "You are about to see a monster") is followed by a cut to the girl protagonist's (Ana's) father. For now assuming that this narrative is driven exclusively by metaphors, does Victor Erice suggest, with that cut, that the girl's father is the "monster" in question? Or, does he, on a more profound level equate the word father to monster? Franco called himself the "father of the nation", and with that knowledge in mind an audience could easily read that scene as a highly ambiguous, yet still extremely effective, criticism of Franco (ie. suggestively calling Franco a monster). However, due to its strongly ambiguous nature, not a single censor would be able to pinpoint that scene and say, without any discernible doubt, that this is indeed the case. It's a wonderful example of allegorical film-making, and how film techniques can be generally used to make an intrinsic statement which relies as much to the techniques applied as it does on the audience's intelligence and ability to understand the more profound meaning behind the images. I remember once reading the viewpoint that Ana herself represents the Spanish nation, and I can see what the intention of that statement is when you consider the monster=Franco equation I outlined above. The monster Ana meets in her daydreams (as she imagines meeting the Boris Karloff figure she saw at the Frankenstein screen) is a figure which lulls her into a false sense of security and turns out to be a threatening presence; and the symbolism itself becomes very plain once the monster=Franco and Ana=Spain (though I'll admit that this is not the most original reading of the film, and aditionally one which doesn't even begin to scrape at the amount of symbolism apparent). If only Erice was as prolific as he is imaginative, since El Espiritu De La Colmena makes up for only one third of his entire output in over thirty years (his other two films being the equally brilliant El Sur and Quince Tree Of The Sun). Needless to say, it's cinematic genius, and a flawless work of art bar none.

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