(aka "The Spirit of the Beehive")

directed by Victor Erice
Spain 1973

"Made under the Franco regime, Victor Erice's astonishing 1973 feature debut is quite simply one of the most remarkable, influential and purely poignant films to emerge from the 1970s. A bona-fide classic of European cinema, the film brought Erice instant and widespread acclaim. An audacious critique of the disastrous legacy of the Spanish Civil War, The Spirit of the Beehive is set in a rural 1940s Spanish village haunted by betrayal and regret. Atmospherically rendered by legendary Director of Photography Luis Cuadrado, it is impeccably performed by both Ana Torrent (aged five!) and Fernando Fernan Gomez in the role of her emotionally scarred, bee-keeping father. Existing in a highly evocative dreamlike state, it's a powerfully symbolic, richly allegorical tale that is as unique as it is beautiful."

****

Víctor Erice’s spellbinding The Spirit of the Beehive (El espíritu de la colmena) is widely regarded as the greatest Spanish film of the 1970s. In a small Castilian village in 1940, in the wake of the country's devastating civil war, six-year-old Ana attends a traveling movie show of Frankenstein and becomes possessed by the memory of it. Produced as Franco’s long regime was nearing its end, The Spirit of the Beehive is a bewitching portrait of a child’s haunted inner life and one of the most visually arresting movies ever made. 

 

Posters

 

Theatrical Release: October 8th, 1973 - Spain

Reviews    More Reviews    DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Optimum Releasing -  Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

Thanks to  Nick Wrigley of Masters of Cinema for the screen captures.

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution Optimum Releasing  Region 2 - PAL Criterion Collection - Spine # 351   Region 1 - NTSC

(click titles for DVDBeaver reviews)

Criterion (without any extras) also available in The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films - a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.

Runtime Approx 1:33:38  1:38:51 
Video 1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: ? mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
1.66:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.15 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
Audio Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)  Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) 
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Optimum Releasing (UK)

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.66:1

Edition Details:

• Stills Gallery

• Trailer

DVD Release Date: October 27th, 2003
Keep Case
Chapters: 16

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.66:1

Edition Details:

• The Footprints of a Spirit, a documentary featuring director Víctor Erice, producer Elías Querejeta, coscreenwriter Ángel Fernández-Santos, and actor Ana Torrent
• Víctor Erice in Madrid, an interview with the director
• Interview with film scholar Linda Ehrlich
• Interview with actor Fernando Fernán Gómez
• Liner notes featuring an essay by film scholar Paul Julian Smith

DVD Release Date: September 19th, 2006
Three-tiered digipak inside cardboard slipcase (see image below)
Chapters: 23

Comments:
ADDITION: Criterion - NTSC - Aug 06' - There are times when the two releases show radical differences in color, and I'm not certain either way which is more accurate, but I am leaning to the Optimum as being more true due to the darker skin tones of the Criterion and apparent black level boosting (it took extensive zooming to identify). The brighter Criterion DVD is transferred anamorphically, where the Optimum is not and the NTSC release appears visibly sharper. The Optimum has some minor cropping on both side edges. I had no adverse reactions regarding either editions viewing on my system - I suspect the Criterion audio was slightly cleaner (and clearer). Subtitles are both well done but the Criterion is possibly more in depth in its translation.

Extras obviously go in Criterions favor with an entire second disc of featurettes and interviews. I was particularly keen on the 48 minute long Footprints of a Spirit - it has a lot of Erice, and others, with input on motives and importance of specific visuals in the film. The Erice interview in Madrid is almost 50 minutes long and many will find it equally as informative. He openly admits that he does not use ideas of a conceptual nature - he again speaks of the film, paternal relationships and some of his influences. There are two other interviews - 11 minutes of actor Fernando Fernán Gómez and 15 minutes of film scholar Linda Ehrlich - the latter again be highly educational. Also included is a fairly extensive 12-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Paul Julian Smith.

Overall the Criterion package is another beauty, certainly my ambivalence surrounding the colors in the transfer does not mar its completeness and desirability for both Erice fans and those keen on cinema in general. The film is a masterpiece that will stay with you for years demanding repeat viewing. We highly recommend!

NOTE: "Having seen the new print of SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE when it was re-released in theaters a few months ago, looking at the screen captures, i'd have to say that the Criterion looks closest to the actual color that was on the restored 35mm prints." (Thanks Daryl!)

Gary Tooze

****

"One of my favourite films, I was amazed to see that the transfer is fantastic and made from a pristine print. Previously only seen in the UK in tatty theatrical presentations (and a sucky original VHS release) - this DVD is heavenly. It is OAR 1.66:1 non-anamorphic with optional English subtitles. The soundtrack is slightly crackily, un-restored, but it doesn't rain on the parade. One of the most pleasant surprises of the year. Lush!"  

Nick Wrigley of Masters of Cinema

Criterion packaging....





DVD Menus

(Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

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Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC Disc 2

 


Subtitle Sample

 

(Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

(Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


 

(Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


 

(Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


 

(Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


 
(Optimum Releasing - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)
 

 

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution Optimum Releasing  Region 2 - PAL Criterion Collection - Spine # 351   Region 1 - NTSC

(click titles for DVDBeaver reviews)

Criterion (without any extras) also available in The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films - a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.




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Gary Tooze

irit of the Beehive DVD Review Victor Erice The Spirit of the Beehive DVD Review Victor Erice The Spirit of the Beehive DVD Review