Homage to Hans Hurch

El espíritu de la colmena

Der Geist des Bienenstocks
Victor Erice
ESP 1973
97 min

Long before Guillermo del toro made PAN’S LABYRINTH, Víctor Erice was exploring the emotional consequences of Spain’s plummet to dictatorship, the power of childhood imagination and the allure of the fantastic in his cinema. For Erice, though, tackling the first of those three was more difficult than it was for Del toro: when Erice made this his first film, Franco was still in power and so his depiction of eight-year-old Ana’s psychologically damaged parents in the immediate aftermath of Franco’s victory in 1940 was dangerous material. Both Ana’s father, a shadowy figure writing a treatise on beekeeping, and his wife, writing letters to a would-be lover exiled in France, are ruined for reasons that aren’t immediately apparent but surely allegorise the emotional disintegration of Spain following the triumph of dictatorship. The beehive – orderly but alien and spiritless – seems to symbolise for the father, who tends it, and for us, the inhumanity of fascist Spain.
But it is Ana’s world that is central to Erice’s debut. After seeing James Whale’s 1931 film FRANKENSTEIN at the local cinema, she wonders why the monster kills a girl in the film and why he is then killed. Her sister tells her that Frankenstein’s monster, like everybody in the charmed world of cinema, never dies, but he lives on as a spirit whom she can summon by calling out: “I’m Ana.” We last see Ana at her bedroom window, poised to invoke the monster once more, the gentle giant who symbolises the long sought-for return of the Spanish republic. (Stuart Jeffries)

With V’11-TRAILER: THE 3 RS by David Lynch

  • Fernando Fernán Gómez - Fernando
  • Teresa Gimpera - Teresa
  • Ana Torrent - Ana
  • Isabel Tellería - Isabel
  • Víctor Erice
  • Ángel Fernández Santos
  • Luis Cuadrado
  • Pablo G. del Amo
  • Luis de Pablo
  • Adolfo Cofiño
  • Peris
Elías Querejeta Producciones Cinematográficas S.L., Jacel Desposito
Video Mercury Films
35 mm
Related Movies