A brilliant but uncomfortable film made as Spain was just emerging from Franco's fascist dictatorship. It reflects the tensions and horrors of that terrible era, not directly but in its general ambience. The men who feature in the film are army officers, and the family at the centre of the story is obviously well-to-do with a large house and a live-in housekeeper. The three children of the family, all girls, attend a private Catholic school, although most of the story takes place during their summer break. However, the main thread has nothing to do with class or fascism, it's about how the children react when fate imposes a new guardian upon them, an aunt, in place of their slightly scatty but adored mother. The middle child of the three, Ana, copes least well with the situation and refuses to accept her aunt's kindness and offers of affection. She herself doesn't understand why - not even as an adult when she comments about it, in a flash-forward. She also has to live with a burden of guilt for certain of her actions as a child. A very different kind of film from Saura's colourful flamenco series, but equally engaging and impressive. The dual-format edition, DVD and Blu-ray, is excellent value with lots of extras and a booklet with useful background reading.
One of my all time favourite Spanish films from the underrated Carlos Saura comes in a excellent transfer from the always dependable BFI with a interesting book about the film Although this film might not be to everyone's taste i recommend this film to everyone interested in the Franco period and especially for the acting skills of the child actress Ana Torrent. Well done BFI for bringing this film on blu ray
Saw this kid in "spirit of the beehives" when she was six. Now she was 9 she isn't the least bit scarier. Incidedentaly, she played Katherine of Aragon in " The other Bolyn girl. Haven't seen it but I guess she would make
At last a HD transfer of a film which could be Carlos Saura's masterpiece, a fascinating parable, somewhere between fantasy and reality, that beyond the too obvious symbolism of a country finally liberating itself from a long dictatorship, it is an intelligent exploration of the scary world of troubled childhood, with a constant presence of death. Ana Torrent (the same girl of Spirit of the Beehive, some two years older) speaks volumes just with those incredible dark eyesof hers. The dual format BFI release looks great on the BD and the extras (regrettably only on the DVD) are pretty good, especially 'Portrait of Carlos Saura', a wonderfully insightful documentary (more than one hour long), produced by TVE (state-run Spanish tv) in 2004 , which I found as interesting as the film itself. The booklet includes good essays, which should be read after watching the movie.
This is a great DVD which came quickly when I ordered it. The little girl who plays the lead is absolutely amazing. I had seen this film when I was young and remember being very troubled by it. Now not so troubling just very human.