Directed by: Victor Erice
Starring: Fernando Fernan Gomez, Teresa Gimpera, Ana Torrent, Isabel Telleria
The review from 2011: Friends have tried to get me to watch Victor Erice’s The Spirit of the Beehive (1973) for ages. One even sent me a copy, but I never got around to actually watching it, so I was glad to be forced into doing it by this screening. The upshot of my viewing, however, is a sense of a movie that I admired much more than I actually liked. And I’m not sure why. It is, after all, the story of the impact a traveling movie show has on a young girl, Ana (Ana Torrent), when it brings James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) to her little Spanish town in 1940. It’s visually striking. It evokes something of Buñuel and more than a little of Bryan Forbes’ allegorical Whistle Down the Wind (1961). It looks forward to Alejandro Amenabar’s The Others (2001) and very much (albeit in a much less fanciful manner) to Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). So what’s not to like? Nothing really, but the film doesn’t quite resonate with me, despite its haunting quality and the fact that it never gives up its secrets. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is the fact that nearly everyone who writes about the film reaches a different conclusion as to its meaning. In that regard alone, it’s a film very worth experiencing for yourself.
Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will presentThe Spirit of the BeehiveFriday, Dec. 20, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com
In Brief: World Cinema closes out 2013 (they return on Jan. 10) with an encore screening of Victor Erice’s acclaimed The Spirit of the Beehive (1973), a story about a fanciful little girl in an isolated Spanish town in 1940, who is deeply affected by seeing the 1931 Frankenstein—to the degree that she believes that a Loyalist soldier hiding in a barn is the Monster.