The Spirit of the Beehive

Movie Information

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.
Genre: Allegorical Drama
Director: Victor Erice
Starring: Fernando Fernan Gomez, Teresa Gimpera, Ana Torrent, Isabel Telleria
Rated: NR

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,

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."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.