Spirit of the Beehive (El Espíritu de la Colmena)

“One of the best of all recent films dealing with childhood fantasies and family relationships. Two young sisters watch James Whale's Frankenstein in the village cinema, whereupon the youngest of the two becomes obsessed with the ‘presence' of the Monster. She helps hide a fugitive from the Army who is eventually killed (the period is just before the Civil War); when the father upbraids her she runs off to retreat even deeper into her private world. Utilizing the barren Castilian landscapes and the burnished browns and yellows of the girls' shadowy village home with a painter's eye, Victor Erice (whose first full-length feature it is) combines a marvellous vision of childhood discoveries - listening for an approaching train, exploring the mysteries of the forest, playing games which suddenly turn sour - with a visualization of a dream-world where, even in the darkness outside, strangers and monsters can take on a benevolent aspect and respond with love. The film's real merit stems from this gently persuasive, poetic atmosphere and its precision of imagery and composition.”

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