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Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Spirit of the Beehive (1973) d. Victor Erce

Ana Torrent in The Spirit of the Beehive (1973) d. Victor Erce

Movie Review
The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)
d. Victor Erce
Criterion Collection #351

   I know my quest to watch every Criterion Collection film AND read all 1001 Books listed in the 2006 edition of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die, but I am making progress.  As I write this I am accumulating the harder to obtain titles in the period between 1900 and 1920 in 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.  Criterion Collection just re-upped with Hulu- making it more likely that additional titles will join those already available.

  Initially released in 1973, the Criterion Collection of The Spirit of the Beehive released in 2006 was hailed at the time as an excellent version of an all-time classic film.  The Spirit of the Beehive has a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes from the important 2006 Criterion Collection edition release- with 19 favorable critical reviews- most from the 2006 DVD release.

  The Spirit of the Beehive is a film set in the 1940s in the immediate aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, made during the 1970s, while Franco was still in power, so it's a movie that is elipitically "about" Spain under Frcianco while actually telling the very non-political story of a little girl, played by the immortal Ana Torrent, who becomes obsessed with Frankenstein after seeing the movie in her rural village.

  The tale unfolds in a pace reminiscent of Japanese cinema: A LOT of static composition and lingering images of interiors.  Specifically, director Erce seems inspired by Ozu.  This point is made by film scholar Linda Ehrlich in a featurette that is basically a 15 minute film professor lecture on the film.  Based on her material, it seems like The Spirit of the Beehive was subjected to a good deal of 90s style academic film criticism. I'm not sure any of that would really add to a movie that is classic and enduring because it is delicate and vague.

  There is a lot you could say about The Spirit of the Beehive, but that seems like its besides the point.

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