Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

Directed by Victor Erice. Starring Ana Torrent, Isabel Telleria, and Fernando Fernan Gomez.

Erice's feature debut tells the story of a young girl growing up in small-town Spain during the 1930s, and Torrent is heartbreaking in the lead role, giving one of cinema's greatest child performances as a shy but kind little girl who watches FRANKENSTEIN and then comes to believe that a fugitive hiding in a nearby barn is the Creature reincarnated. Mostly, the film's greatness lies in Erice's mastery of tone, as each scene plays like a vivid memory from childhood- the vague feeling of boredom on a lazy afternoon, the excitement of hushed stories told by siblings when you're supposed to be asleep, and the pure joy of watching a movie. When the film is over, my memory of it felt nearly as distant as the memories of my youth, and nearly as treasured.

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