Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Spirit of the Beehive

 "The Spirit of the Beehive," directed by Víctor Erice, takes place in a small, isolated Spanish town in 1940, shortly after the end of the civil war that inaugurated the long reign of Generalissimo Francisco Franco. The film was made in 1973, near the end of Franco's dictatorship, at a time when Spanish cinema was just starting to reawaken, and to probe, carefully and hesitantly, the buried traumas of the recent past. Perhaps fittingly, one of Mr. Erice's themes is repression — not so much the stifling of thought by political authority as the willed avoidance of painful experience. The story that emerges from Mr. Erice's lovely, lovingly considered images is at once lucid and enigmatic, poised between adult longing and childlike eagerness, sorrowful knowledge and startled innocence. — A. O. Scott