The Spirit of the Beehive

Movie Information

The Hendersonville Film Society will show The Spirit of the Beehive at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 1, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville).
Genre: Allegorical Drama
Director: Victor Erice
Starring: Fernando Fernan Gomez, Teresa Gimpera, Ana Torrent, Isabel Telleria
Rated: NR

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.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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2 thoughts on “The Spirit of the Beehive

  1. Me

    Ive been wanting to see this for ages too, but i keep bumping it on my Netflix que for some reason.

  2. Mike

    FYI: It’s available to watch on their Watch Instantly service until May 26th, although I wager it looks much better projected.

    In any case, well worth your time.

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