The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE (1973)
aka El Espiritu de la colmena
Article 2805 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-11-2009
Posting Date: 4-18-2009
Directed by Victor Erice
Featuring Fernando Fernan Gomez, Teresa Gimpera, Ana Torrent
Country: Spain

A young girl in a rural Spanish village in 1940 becomes obsessed with the Frankenstein Monster after seeing the movie FRANKENSTEIN. She begins to imagine that she can conjure his spirit, and he becomes a part of her fantasy life.

It’s a Spanish art film rather than any sort of a horror movie, and I won’t pretend to have a thorough understanding of everything that goes on in this one, but if you’re familiar with the James Whale version of FRANKENSTEIN, you might well find this as fascinating as I did. In particular, I like the way several incidents parallel or recall incidents in that movie. For example, there’s a scene in a schoolroom where the kids are called upon to put the missing organs back on a cardboard cutout of a man (called Don Jose), a scene which recalls the creation of the monster. The movie gets deeper and deeper into the girl’s fantasy life, and much of this is no doubt brought about by the distance that so many people put between themselves and others; outside of the two sisters, we rarely see any of the members of the family in the same frame with each other. The fantasy life reaches a crucial turning point when an escaped criminal hides out in the abandoned house where the little girl believes the spirit of the Frankenstein monster lives. It’s really an indescribable movie, and must be seen to be appreciated.

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