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Although Del Toro insists that this is not a film about the Civil War, by trapping and threatening its inhabitants the orphanage inevitably becomes a mirror for the events outside. These four walls become a place of protection for boys who have been orphaned during the war, a place for them to lead a relatively normal existence full of school life, bullying and adventure. Their main source of the latter being Santi, a young ghost who haunts the halls looking for revenge for his recent murder. Yet the pivotal character who evokes real fear in the children is not the spirit, but the greedy, selfish Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega), a former orphan, whose experiences have left him with deep emotional scars. With a strong cast and even stronger imagery (created by cinematographer Guillermo Navarro) Del Toro whips up a hauntingly effective film about love, life and the afterlife.
On the DVD: entering the extras literally through the keyhole, there are several opportunities to obtain a deeper understanding of this disturbing film. A "Behind the Scenes" featurette includes the casts own character profiles and interpretation of the story, as well as Del Toro explaining his thoughts about the film and how he achieved some shots. Two of the sequences"Aerial Bombardment" and "The Ghost"--can be seen in further technical detail, with film footage and computer animation combined to make a whole scene. A selection of storyboards can also be viewed which run alongside the soundtrack to the scene, with the option to intercut between storyboard and finished film. A theatrical trailer, a picture gallery and written biographies are standard. The film and additional features are in Spanish with English subtitles and menu. With Dolby 5:1 sound and a widescreen picture, the film not only looks and sounds, but also feels fantastically chilling. --Nikki Disney
Thank you Mr Guillermo del Toro for this gift of a magnificent movie. With this one, i feel i am watching the ascendancy of a unique directorial Great. I don't have any knowledge of Spanish. But i am telling everyone i meet to watch this movie. Its themes of death, ghosts, wars, love and loss are too relevant now. We "need" this story. Saying anymore about the "Devil's Backbone" would be to rob you of the pleasure in discovering the many heartbreaking moments for yourself. Not even the Devil would do that.
Briefly - the plot. A boy Carlos is left by his guardian to stay at an orphanage run by left-wing sympathisers. Outside the war looms closer, the fascists gaining ground every day. Carlos must deals with bullying, loneliness and the violent threats of caretaker Jacinto. As if this wasn't enough, he must discover the truth about the mysterious figure haunting the orphanage at night. A voice that tells him, "Many of you will die..."
Guillermo del Toro's intimate and tender film is undoubtedly a ghost story - but don't come to it expecting a standard Hollywood-style horror flick. Although the ghost-seeking-revenge plotline in itself is probably the most traditional element of the film, it is just one part of a rich, deep and troubling look at one of Spain's most brutal periods. And "the one who sighs" himself is a truly original ghost - half child, half skeleton, releasing blood into the air as though floating through water. But like all the characters in the movie, even the villains, he earns our sympathy.
The cast are superb, including the children.Read more ›