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El espíritu de la colmena (1973)

The Dream of Light — Written by lezard on 23.04.2020

Spain in the 30's. The world seen by a little girl.
It starts like in cinema. It starts with cinema. And of course with the light which is linked to it. There are secrets and silence and cinema lights the lantern of the world, casting fascinating, scaring shadows. Plato's cave.
It starts like childhood. It starts with childhood. You won't forget Ana Torrent's
eyes, riveted to Frankenstein's creature on the screen.
In Erice's movies, light renders time (and weather) palpable. The light of the projector splits the night and reveals the marvels and torments of the world. It reveals the truth behind appearances. The creature's killing spur behind its innocence.
The world of the adults is full of lies and hidden things. Revelation and deception. Families are full of secrets. The mother lies awake, listening to the howling of the passing trains that take away her dreams and her letters in the night. Rather than lies, the family is an arrangement with desire. As to love, it can kill, like monsters or war.
Death is lurking, the parents' death, the soldier's death. The childen who pretend to be dead to tame their fear and fascination.
There is silence, secrets. The silence of the family, again, with cheating and disappointment, the things you never speak of. The silence about the war and its atrocities, the deadly silence of history about the crimes of franquism (Franco was not dead when the movie was shot).
Faced with the cruelty of the world, there is escape. The adults' escape. They flee their responsabilities and bury their hopes and dreams. There is the children's escape, the fantastic power of their imagination., the summoning of the spirits. Fantastic theatre of childhood. In the cold and high-ceilinged bedrooms, near the railroad tracks, on the great plain, their plays, challenges and tales unfold.
In the wells sleep the monsters. A watch given as a gift, tries to stop time. The bees weaves in the light the honey of childhood, that will melt with the lies of adulthood.
Ana stands in front of the window, fragile and almighty, facing the sunrise and storms to come. Eventually, Erice doesn't forget the magical loneliness of this childhood. With it, he has shaped a gem in the night of cinema.
Spain in the 30's, a little girl confronted to monsters and the harshness of the world. Guillermo Del Toro will remember it 33 years later.

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