Thanks to a recommendation by my friend, I watched a stunning film this weekend. Set in a Castilian village somewhere in early 1940's rural Spain, this movie has won international acclaim as a masterpiece - labeled one of the greatest Spanish films of the 1970's. On the surface, it is a coming of age story in which six-year-old Ana, played by Ana Torrent, tries to make sense of the world after seeing a young girl die in the classic 1931 film, Frankenstein. However, the movie is chock-full of symbolism and is also a commentary on life at the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War. The cinematic photography shot by Luis Cuadrado (who was going blind while the film was being made) is stark and breathtaking. Each scene seems to stay in your memory as a snapshot. As with many foreign films, the pace is hauntingly slow and the dialogue is sparse, adding to the intense feeling and emotion of the storyline. Isabel Telleria plays the innocent Ana's older sister Isabel, and has a menacing side to say the least. Together, these beautiful little girls bring this powerful story to life.
The Spirit of the Beehive (1973) was written and directed by Victor Erice and is one of only three movies he made over a 20 year period. The other two films, The South (1982) and The Quince Tree Sun (1992) are also highly regarded.
Treat yourself to The Spirit of the Beehive. It now ranks among my top ten favorite foreign films.