The Spirit of the Beehive (El Espíritu de la colmena)


The Spirit of the Beehive (El Espíritu de la colmena) (2006)


Critic Consensus: El Espíritu de la Colmena uses a classic horror story's legacy as the thread for a singularly absorbing childhood fable woven with uncommon grace.


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Movie Info

Eight-year-old Ana lives in a close-knit Castillian village with her daydreamer mother Teresa, older sister Isabel and father Fernando, who tends beehives for a living. After watching James Whale's 1931 version of Frankenstein with Boris Karloff, little Ana becomes convinced that the monster in living in one of the nearby, rundown houses. When an escaped convict seeks refuge in one house, Ana believes she has finally met the monster of her nightmares.


News & Interviews for The Spirit of the Beehive (El Espíritu de la colmena)

Critic Reviews for The Spirit of the Beehive (El Espíritu de la colmena)

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (10)

Spirit of the Beehive is the sort of slumbrously sensitive item that tends to give art films a poisonous reputation... seems to believe in the infinite evocative power of long, ponderous, static takes.

May 8, 2018 | Full Review…

Sensitive, beautifully-wrought.

Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…
Top Critic

It's a film that transports us back not just to the sights and sounds of childhood but to a core of sweet innocence and sometimes ignorant bliss.

Jul 6, 2006 | Rating: 4/4

This is a modest marvel of grace and framing that unfolds with the patience of a cloud and is driven more by wonder than pure emotion.

May 26, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Those who haven't seen it since the '70s may find themselves amazed all over again by its lyrical potency and grace; those who have never seen it may wonder how it can be that a film this great isn't shown somewhere all the time.

Mar 31, 2006 | Rating: 4/4

Screening in a new print so pristine you forget that this film is 33 years old, Spirit of the Beehive sweeps you into its quiet world.

Mar 24, 2006 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Spirit of the Beehive (El Espíritu de la colmena)


A brilliant and spellbinding sociopolitical commentary told in a most symbolic way (and with a gorgeous cinematography) as a fabulous tale of loss of innocence centered on a sweet 7-year-old girl who discovers evil at the heart of her beehive-like world in Francoist Spain.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


After seeing a touring print of FRANKENSTEIN in 1940s Spain, a young girl is convinced the monster is real and lives in an abandoned farmhouse on the edge of town. This movie is too slow for its own good---it takes an hour for the first major plot development, and for the young actress to discover a second expression---but the seriousness and artistry can't be overlooked.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

A young person learning about death is universal, but here in Spirit of the Beehive it's filtered into a very specific situation: a girl coming to grips with mortality in the shadow of the Spanish Civil War, through a viewing of James Whale's Frankenstein. Perhaps not the most relatable set of circumstances, Victor Erice renders it accessible for all audiences by his austere visual style and cute-as-a-button Ana Torrent. A bit ponderous and maybe sort of de-oxygenated (why so many pauses?), but potent at the end of it all.

Drew Smith
Drew Smith

Super Reviewer

If only they had better monster makeup. I jest - wonderful film.

Bob Stinson
Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer

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