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The Spirit of Beehive

Víctor Erice
El espíritu de la colmena
Spain 1973 / 97’

A story about childhood, imagination, fear, and other emotions experienced in life that Erice took on as one of Spain's greatest filmmakers and one of the most interesting contemporary directors in general. His feature-length debut enchants audiences with its subtlety and lightness and, at the same time, with its solemnity and gravity. Equally important as the story itself is its atmosphere, which is at least partly the result of the disturbing music composed by Luis de Pablo (known for his work with Carlos Saura) and extends into scenes of the landscape-raw, autumnal, and empty, filled with a bleak magic. The film is set in a Castilian village in 1940, shortly after the end of the civil war, traces of which can still be felt. One day, a traveling cinema arrives, giving local residents an opportunity to see the film Frankenstein. In the audience are two sisters, Ana (the phenomenal Ana Torrent, who was discovered by Erice) and the slightly older Isabel (Isabel Telleria). For both girls, the experience will prove to be a breakthrough-from that time forward, they are going to be fascinated by the mystery of death, which each of them tries to unravel in her own way.

Magdalena Bartczak


IFF San Sebastián 1973 - Golden Seashell for the Best Film, ACE Awards for the Best Director and the Best Actress (Ana Torrent), Cinema Writers Circle Awards (Spain) – award for the Best Film and the Best Director, Fotograma de Plata – Best Spanish Movie Performer award for Ana Torrent

Víctor Erice

A film director, screenwriter, and producer, Víctor Erice is regarded as one of Spain's greatest masters of cinema. He was born in 1940 in the Basque town of Karrantza, and his parents moved to San Sebastián when he was a few months old. Sometime later, his life became tied to Madrid, where he first studied Law and Political Science, and then Film Direction, which he completed in 1963. While still a student, he started working in television production and worked as a film critic for magazines such as Nuestro Cine and Cuadernos de Arte y Pensamiento, and he remains active in both these fields to this day. At the same time, he began taking his first steps in the film industry, working on screenplays for films by Miguel Picazo (Obscure August Dreams/Oscuros sueños de Agosto) and Antxon Eceiza (Next Fall/El próximo otoño), and he also had an acting role in Manuel Revuelta's Antoñito Returns Home (Antoñito vuelve a casa). By then, he had already begun making his first short films in preparation for his full-length debut, The Spirit of the Beehive (El espíritu de la Colmena, 1973). In terms of just how much his films are studied and the lengthy intervals between his films, he is often compared with Carl Theodor Dreyer and Terrence Malick. Following his debut, he made only two more feature-length productions and several shorts as part of collective projects, including Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet (2002), which appeared in Polish cinemas, and Centro Histórico (2012), which was screened at the 13th T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival.


1961 Na tarasie / En la terraza / On the terrace (short)

1962 Strony z zagubionego dziennika / Páginas de un diario perdido / Pages from the lost diary (short)

1963 Zagubione dni / Los días perdidos / Lost Days (short)

1966 Pomiędzy drogami / Entre vías / Between the Ways (short)

1969 Wyzwania / Los desafíos / The Challenges (short)

1973 Duch roju / El espíritu de la colmena / The Spirit of Beehive

1983 Południe / El sur / The South

1992 Słońce pośród liści pigwy / El sol del membrillo / The Quince Tree Sun

1995 Celebrate Cinema 101 (novel Preguntas al atardecer)

2002 Dziesięć minut później: trąbka / Ten minutes older: the trumpet (novel Lifeline)

2006 La Morte Rouge (short)

2007 Korespondencja / Corresponencia - 10 cartas con Abbas Kiarostami (doc.)

2011 3.11 A sense of home (novel Ana)

2012 Centro Histórico (novel Vidros partidos)

Cast & Crew

director Víctor Erice
screenplay Víctor Erice, Angel Fernández Santos
cinematography Luis Cuadrado
editing Pablo G. del Amo
music Luis de Pablo
cast Fernando Fernán Gómez, Teresa Gimpera, Ana Torrent, Isabel Tellería, Laly Soldevilla, Miguel Picazo, Juan Margallo
producer Elías Querejeta
production Elías Querejeta Producciones Cinematográficas S.L., Jacel Desposito
sales Filmoteca del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores
language Spanish
colouration colour