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Film 50: History of Cinema

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
3:00 p.m. The Spirit of the Beehive
Víctor Erice (Spain, 1973)

Lecture by Marilyn Fabe


Special admission prices apply: General admission, $11.50; BAM/PFA members, $7.50; UC Berkeley students, $5.50; Seniors, disabled persons, UC Berkeley faculty and staff, non–UC Berkeley students, and youth 17 and under, $8.50.

(El espiritu de la colmena). Spain, 1943, the end of the civil war: in a rural village made of little more than train tracks, mud, and the sky live two sisters, the quiet, moon-eyed Ana (Ana Torrent) and the older, confident Isabel (Isabel Telleria). A traveling road show brings the magic of cinema, specifically Frankenstein, into their long days; while their elderly father tends to bees and poetry, and their beautiful mother dreams of a love lost long ago, the two children wonder over ghosts and outcasts, Frankenstein monsters that become all too real once an actual fugitive enters their lives. Grounded in the political realities of 1940s Spain, and in an autumnal natural reality of plowed fields, abandoned farmhouses, and empty streets, Spirit attunes itself to the phantom realms of its child protagonists, where signs and wonders are everywhere, and new worlds await just outside the family home. “The best Spanish film ever made. . . . There has probably never been a more extraordinary view of a child on a movie screen” (Richard Eder, New York Times).

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Erice, Angel Fernandez Santos. Photographed by Luis Cuadrado. With Ana Torrent, Isabel Telleria, Fernando Fernan Gomez, Teresa Gimpera. (95 mins, In Spanish with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Janus/Criterion Collection)