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


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

Critics 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.



Total Count: 23


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,587
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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.


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

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (22) | Rotten (1)

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

  • Dec 09, 2018
    So what is meant by the spirit of the beehive, the title of this movie, and the impressionist painting we get from it? Itâ(TM)s a world where bees viewed in their hive through glass move in angry, chaotic directions. Itâ(TM)s an absolutely desolate landscape. A joyless marriage. A forest where if youâ(TM)re not careful, you might pick a deadly mushroom. A sister with a sadistic side, who enjoys playing little tricks on you, and chokes the cat. A world where, like the 1931 movie Frankenstein, a girl may put herself in danger through her innocence, and trust in someone who may turn out to be a monster. How does life carry on under a dictator, in the period following a bitter civil war? Life that is spiritually barren, without joy, and dangerous; one where we see the worst side of humanity and its monsters. There is such an aridity about this film, a sterility akin to those parched fields or the drones in the hive. And yet life continues on in the wide-eyed wonder, imagination, and curiosity of children. Ana Torrent and Isabel Telleria are wonderful as the girls, and the scene that director Victor Erice captures of the young and old watching the movie during its tense moments is fantastic. The cinematography is good but I didnâ(TM)t find it quite as legendary as others. My main criticism, though, is in pacing; the film is simply too slow for events which are mostly mundane. A part of that is in keeping with the creation of an overall feeling though, and I love the spirit of this film.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 13, 2016
    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 M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 22, 2013
    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 Super Reviewer
  • Apr 15, 2013
    Victor Erice's slow-paced, dream-like "The Spirit of the Beehive" has a simple narrative that includes mainly long shots with minimal dialogue, but it's such an entrancing work. The score, the performances, the cinematography and the central story involving Frank Whale's "Frankenstein" are excellent, and even if it's not the most interesting thing out there, it's worth a watch simply because of how dream-like it is.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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