Wednesday, May 20, 2009

El Espíritu de la Colmena (Spirit of the Beehive)(1973)

I seem to be in the mood for Spanish cinema at the moment. And in no way is that a bad thing!

Spirit of the Beehive has been in my collection for over 2 years, yet somehow I have avoided watching it. I had not seen it prior to my purchase, but based my decision to own it on the word of another director. Lucile Hadzihalilovic directed an amazingly esoteric film called Innocence, in an interview on that disc she cites Spirit of the Beehive as an influence. Having now watched Spirit of the Beehive, I can see why.

To say that this film is charming, striking and esoteric would be to do it a disservice. There is an honesty caught on film here that rivals any other I have seen in my years of movie viewing. Quite simply the movie captures the innocence of a child and their wild imagination perfectly.

Centered around a small Spanish town recovering from Civil War, the film focuses on Anna and Isabel, 2 young girls who live in a run down Mansion with their Father, a beekeeper and their Mother who seems laconic and distant. One day, a traveling movie show comes to town to screen Frankenstein. The viewing of the film by the two youngsters and its impact on them is the main focus. The two girls are amazing, watching their performances is enlightening as much as it is enthralling. The film is beautifully photographed with some great cinematography and use of the amazing landscape.

In today's action blockbuster fueled world, few films stop to smell the roses and those that do tend to receive negative reviews based on slow or lagging pace. Spirit of the Beehive manages to
keep a melancholy pace without ever giving a sense of being slow.

The Criterion DVD presents the film in a nice 2 disc package. The film looked wonderful and the subtitles were easy to read. I wonder if it will ever see a Blu-ray release, as the imagery is so important that the extra resolution would certainly benefit.

Spirit of the Beehive ended up being a wonderful addition to my collection, I enjoyed its melodic pace and marveled and the performances from its young actresses and will gladly be adding to my list of recommendations.

No comments: